Public health officials of Alameda County released a warning to residents in the northern city of Oakland, Calif., to avoid a rabid bat that bit a girl on Saturday. The incident occurred while the teenager was volunteering at the city's zoo. A wild bat wandered onto the ledge of an otter aquarium. Nicky Mora, the Oakland zoo's spokeswoman, said they later realized that the Mexican free-tailed bat bit the girl when she tried to handle it.

Although the bat didn't belong to the zoo, it was captured and tested positive for rabies. Veterinarians then euthanized the bat, as there is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. Rabies is a virus that can affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including humans, which is why it ultimately poses a serious health threat.

The warning described animals who were "roaming, staggering or otherwise acting in a strange manner" as dangerous and highly advised individuals to avoid them and report a sighting immediately.

"There may be other rabid animals still undiscovered," the Alameda County Vector Control Services District explained on its circulated flyers. The flyers were posted around all of the local communities, according to Reuters. "Report any animals roaming, staggering or otherwise acting in a strange manner in the daytime."

The bitten girl is a minor and has been recovering since Wednesday after being treated for rabies. The post-exposure treatments that she received are helping the recovery process and working effectively to fight off the disease.

Symptoms & Treatment Of Rabies

Although the girl was directly bitten by the rabies-infected bat, that isn't the only way that rabies can be contracted — contrary to popular belief. If a person comes into contact with infected saliva through a skin abrasion or mucus membrane, he or she can contract the disease. Such a person must immediately be treated with a vaccine before symptoms begin to show, because once they do, it is almost always a fatal ending.

Two humans die every year in the United States from a rabies bat bite, though this is miniscule compared to the 40,000 cases of rabies in the country, most of which are bat-infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Death aside, bats do account for many of the human rabies cases in the U.S., and according to Bat World Sanctuary, Inc.,"the small size of North American bats makes them appear harmless so people may handle them unwisely. It's important to remember that any grounded bat is more likely to be sick, therefore bats should never be rescued barehanded."

Fortunately, rabies vaccinations are not as painful as they once were, and have been compared to a flu or tetanus shot. Animals can be vaccinated prior to exposure, which both protects the animal and any human that the animal may bite, according to the ASPCA.

Rabies symptoms include restlessness, apprehension, aggression, and irritability. Rabid animals may also lick, bite, and chew at the infection site, causing a fever. Infected individuals may become hypersensitive to touch, light, and sound, and once their symptoms are compounded with throat and jaw muscle paralysis, they will begin to foam at the mouth. Death without euthanasia will typically come by seizures and sudden death. The virus can incubate unnoticed for two to eight weeks before noticeable signs; however, the virus can be transferred through saliva as early as 10 days prior to the first signs of symptoms.

"The most progressive tool we can use to fight this disease is education and common sense," wrote Bat World Sanctuary, Inc.