Finding of Positive Rabid Bat Prompts Warning from Health Unit
Case of local family being exposed to rabid bat brings call to be vigilant and ‘bat proof’ your home
PORT HOPE, ON (July 27, 2022) – 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 (HKPR District Health Unit) says the affected family members were provided post-exposure vaccine for rabies and are recovering well in the aftermath. 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 subsequently found to be positive for rabies.
The family-owned pets are also getting follow-up with a veterinarian on possible rabies exposure for the animals.
The incident, which took place in the HKPR District Health Unit region (City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County) 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 HKPR District Health Unit. “Contact with any wild animal, including bats, should be avoided if at all possible. That message applies to people and pets,” he says. “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.
Bats in the home can be a nuisance and potential hazard to you and your family, Ovcharovich notes. Bats are also capable of transmitting rabies to humans and other animals. Although most animal bites are readily apparent, bites inflicted by bats can be harder to notice, especially if it involves an infant, child, or those with cognitive impairments.
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 have bats living on your property and want to remove them, contact a professional pest control company or wildlife removal company.
- 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 the home. If bats are found in the home, seek advice from an animal control or wildlife conservation authority. If doing it yourself, carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters, then take steps to seal them. For instance, caulk any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch, ensure all doors to the outside close tightly, and use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics.
For media inquiries, contact:
Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2222.
About the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit provides important public health programs and services to residents in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Our dedicated team of public health professionals, led by our Medical Officer of Health, promote healthy living, protect against disease, and prevent illness and injury. We work with health care providers and community partners to address emerging health issues, service gaps and social inequities to support residents in being well and reaching their full potential. Our values of trust, engagement, accountability, and leadership guide what we do every day. Learn more at www.hkpr.on.ca.