FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Perth East ― A bat captured in South Easthope on August 28 has tested positive for rabies. This is the first animal in Perth County to test positive for rabies in 2019, and the first bat to test positive for rabies since August 2012. In 2018, one animal (a cow) from Perth County tested positive for rabies.
Bats are very active this time of year as they prepare to hibernate. The Health Unit has submitted
10 bats for rabies testing this month. “Bats are a concern because they can expose a person to rabies,” says Dale Lyttle, Public Health Inspector. “We want residents to be prepared if they come across one in their home.”
People may become infected with rabies when bitten or scratched by a rabid bat, or when a rabid bat’s saliva comes into contact with broken skin or moist tissues of the mouth, nose or eyes. If left untreated, rabies is fatal in humans.
“It’s important to take the right steps when you have a bat in the house,” says Lyttle. “Ultimately, if you see a bat, try to stay away from it.” If exposure does occur, wash the area thoroughly with soapy water, seek medical advice immediately, and then contact the Health Unit.
It is considered human exposure when:
- There has been direct contact with a bat; AND
- A bite, scratch, or saliva exposure into a wound or mucous membrane cannot be ruled out.
Direct contact with a bat is defined as the bat touching or landing on a person. If there has been human exposure, a risk assessment will be done to determine if rabies vaccine is needed.
It is not considered an exposure if:
- a bat is flying nearby
- you see a bat (or bats) in the attic
- you find bat feces, blood or urine
- a bat touches an object like a lampshade or tabletop and then you touch that object.
If there has been human exposure and the bat is available for testing, call the Health Unit for further instructions on how to get the bat tested for rabies.
To safely catch a live bat, use heavy gloves and a box, can or other wide-mouthed container. Place the box or can over the bat and slide a piece of heavy cardboard under the container to prevent the bat’s escape.
The best way to keep bats out of your home is to build them out. This involves caulking holes in your home’s exterior, even those as small as one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter. It’s also important to tighten screens, cap the chimney, place draft guards under doors leading to the attic and outside, and fill plumbing fixture holes with steel wool or caulk.
“As always, pets should be up-to-date on their rabies shots,” reminds Lyttle. Any animal bite should be reported to the Health Unit right away for follow up.
For more information