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Yolo County officials are urging local residents to act with caution after a bat found at a Davis playground tested positive for rabies.

The bat was found at about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 13 inside a tire swing at Davis Community Park, the Yolo County Sheriff's Office said in a press release Wednesday. Children nearby notified an adult when the bat fell out of the tire swing and began crawling on the ground.

An animal services officer sent the bat to a lab, where it tested positive for rabies.

The sheriff's office noted that several bats were found to be rabid in 2013 in a colony under the Covell Boulevard and F Street pedestrian overpass, near the park. The bats have re-established a colony at that location this year, according to Yolo County animal control.

"Please do not disturb the bat colony," the Yolo County Sheriff's Office warned in a press release. "If you find a bat on the ground or in your residence do not attempt to handle the animal. Please contact Yolo County Sheriff's Animal Services or your local law enforcement agency to have the animal removed."

"Also, remember to vaccinate your pets for rabies," the sheriff's office added. "Many bats reside in populated areas because of the flying insects that are attracted to night burning lights in parking lots and on residences as they are the bat's food resource."

On Wednesday afternoon, San Joaquin County Public Health Services (PHS) said it had the first confirmed case of animal rabies of the year in the county. A feral kitten was tested positive for a deadly rabies infection.

PHS said the kitten was found in a rural area of the county. Lab results showed the kitten was exposed to rabies through a bat bite.

"This finding serves as a reminder that we must all take precautions when coming in contact with any stray, wild or unfamiliar animal, and be sure that our pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations," San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Alvaro Garza said.

The rabies virus affects the central nervous system. It is carried in the saliva of an infected animal and is transmitted when the saliva comes into contact with an open wound or mucus membranes – such as eyes, mouth or nose. The first sign of rabies in an animal is change in behavior. Other symptoms include staggering, convulsions, spitting, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis.

PHS said the rabies virus is preventable in animals with vaccinations, but if a rabies infection is left untreated it can be fatal to both humans and animals.

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