SIMCOE, ON, OCTOBER 12, 2010 – Another bat has tested positive for rabies in Norfolk County. The bat marks the second confirmed case of rabies in the past five months.
Recovered from the Simcoe-area, the bat confirms that rabies is still active in the region. A bat captured in a Waterford-area home in May of this year also tested positive for the disease. Prior to May of 2010, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit had not encountered a case of rabies in the region since 2007.
A total of eight bats tested positive for rabies in Haldimand and Norfolk between 2000 and 2007. However, the Health Unit has not come across a rabid four-legged creature since 1997. Rabies is also on the decline across the province. The 50 confirmed rabies cases in Ontario in 2009 marked an all-time low.
“Although we experienced a few years without any cases of rabies, this second bat further confirms that the disease is still present in the area,” said Kris Lutzi, Acting Program Coordinator for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team. “Residents need to remain aware of the risk and take precautions to protect themselves and their pets from the disease.”
Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. If you have had direct contact with a bat, the best thing to do is to wash the affected area right away, seek medical advice immediately and notify the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit of the incident. If the bat is captured or found dead, and direct contact resulting in penetration of the skin has occurred, the bat will be sent for rabies testing.
Certain signs may be an indicator that a bat is rabid. Rabid bats often do not fly well, or lose their ability to fly. If a bat is active during the day, crawling along the ground or acting unusual, there is a chance it may be rabid. Rabid bats are rarely aggressive.
To protect your family and pets from bat exposure, take the following precautions:
- Avoid direct contact with bats (e.g. handling a bat with bare hands)
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, especially bats.
- “Bat-proof’ your home by filling, caulking or repairing any openings larger than Â¼ inch by Â½ inch, use window screens and chimney caps, and ensure all doors to the outside close tightly.
- Keep family pets up to date with rabies vaccinations.
For additional information about rabies, or to report a suspected rabid bat exposure, contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623, or visit www.hnhu.org.
Acting Program Coordinator
Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3261 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623