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Finding of positive rabid bat prompts warning from health unit

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Area residents are being urged to take precautions against rabies in the wake of an incident in which members of a local family were exposed to a rabid bat in their home.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says the affected family members were provided post-exposure vaccine for rabies and are recovering well. The incident took place recently at the family’s home, where a bat that had entered the dwelling possibly exposed the occupants to rabies. The bat was captured, sent for testing, and found to be positive.

The family-owned pets are also getting follow-up with a veterinarian on possible rabies exposure for the animals. The incident is a reminder for people to take care around bats and ensure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination, says Richard Ovcharovich, Environmental Health Manager with the health unit. “Contact with any wild animal, including bats, should be avoided if possible. That message applies to people and pets. It’s never worth the risk, especially when rabies is involved.”

Rabies is transmitted when there is contact with the saliva of an infected animal through a bite, lick, or scratch. As in this incident, a post-exposure vaccine is available for humans in the event of contact with a rabid animal. If left untreated, rabies is almost always a fatal disease caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans.

When it comes to bats, the Health Unit offers these tips:

  • If you suspect you may have been bitten or had contact with a bat, immediately report this to your family doctor and the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.
  • If you are bitten or scratched by a bat that is discovered in your home, leave the room, close the door, and contact a professional pest control company or wildlife removal company. Do not touch a bat with your bare hands. If there was no human contact (bite or scratch), open a window and allow the bat to get out.
  • If you discover a bat outdoors that is injured, acting strange or dead, do not touch it.
  • As bats can transmit the rabies virus to dogs and cats, ensure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • Bat-proof your home.
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