SIMCOE, June 25, 2015 – A bat from a property in Haldimand County has tested positive for rabies. A bat has not been found positive for rabies in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties since 2010.
“While we are seeing a decline in rabies throughout Ontario, and we have not had a case of rabies in a four legged animal since 1997, this positive bat shows that the rabies virus is still a reasonable health concern,” said Adrienne Andrew, Program Manager of the Environmental Health Team at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “It is still important for the public to protect not only themselves, but their pets too from the rabies virus.”
From 2000 to 2010, a total of 10 bats in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties tested positive for the rabies virus. A bat must be sent for testing to confirm if it has been infected with the rabies virus as one cannot tell just by looking at a bat. It has been found that bats infected with the rabies virus may have difficulty flying and are more likely to be seen during daylight hours with passive behaviour.
“Once rabies symptoms start, the disease is almost always fatal. If you or a family member has had contact with a bat, the first step to prevent transmission of the rabies virus would be to wash the affected area(s) with soap and warm water to physically remove as much saliva from the bat, which contains the rabies virus, as possible. The next steps would be to discuss the potential rabies exposure with a health care provider, and to contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit,” said Andrew. “It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a potential exposure to rabies.”
If the bat has exposed someone via a bite or scratch incident, it can be sent for testing by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency laboratory in Ottawa. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will make arrangements to collect a deceased bat for testing. If the bat is still alive, please call a pest control company to capture the bat prior to contacting the HNHU to collect the bat for testing. If you awake to a bat in your bedroom and there was no exposure, you can leave the window open in the bedroom to allow the bat to fly out.
Follow these steps to protect your family and pets from a potential rabies exposure from a bat:
- Fill, caulk or repair any openings into your home that allow for the entry of bats
- Ensure all windows have screens and use chimney caps over the fireplace
- Ensure pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations
- Avoid handling a bat with bare hands and any other direct contact with a bat
- Teach children to avoid handling bats, or any other unknown wild or domestic animal
More information about the rabies virus can be found online at www.hnhu.org or by calling 519-426-6170 or 905-318-5367.
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Program Manager, Environmental Health
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3216 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623