For Immediate Release
July 29, 2019: Three members of a Dufferin County family are being treated for possible exposure to rabies from a bat found in their barn. This is the first rabid bat confirmed in Dufferin County since 1990.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry distributes baits with the rabies vaccine that wildlife will eat to stop the spread of the rabies in animals; however, there is no vaccine or bait for bats.
Given the number of bats in Ontario rabies is relatively rare. Last year, 31 bats tested positive for rabies in the province. There were 3 rabid bats found in the City of Guelph since 2017 and a rabid bat was found by swimmers at Belwood Lake last summer.
“Bats are an important part of our ecosystem, it just isn’t fun to find one in your home,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “If you come across a bat indoors, don’t touch it — call your local animal control agency. If anyone has direct contact with the bat call your family doctor or visit your local hospital emergency department.”
Stay away from all wildlife, stray cats and dogs. If you suspect an animal is acting strangely do not go near it. Contact local animal control services or the police.
If someone is exposed to an animal who may have rabies, a physician will do an assessment to determine if that individual should receive the rabies vaccine.
Rabies is a fatal virus that affects mammals, including humans, and is commonly spread by raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite. However, saliva can also enter the body through scratches, open wounds or mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes.
For more information about rabies, visit wdgpublichealth.ca/rabies.
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