Bat encounters can put you at risk for rabies

It’s important to avoid coming into contact with bats, the primary carrier of the rabies virus.

Some people think they are cute and others find them creepy. Whether you are fascinated or fearful, the bottom line is it’s important to avoid coming into physical contact with bats, the primary carrier of the rabies virus in B.C.

Rabies is a very serious disease that affects the nervous system. It is almost always fatal if not treated in time. In 2016, 61 people in the Interior Health region were treated for potential exposure to rabies.

Between four and eight per cent of the bats that are tested after coming into contact with people are found to have the rabies virus. Infected bats can transmit rabies to humans when their saliva comes into contact with a person’s mucus membranes (eyes, nose, and mouth) or through a break in the skin.

With the long weekend just around the corner, many people will be bringing summer gear out of storage or heading out to open the cabin. Activities like these can lead to unexpected encounters with bats. Bats often fly into poorly sealed cabins and homes, they roost in attic spaces and they can even be found hanging inside closed patio umbrellas.

Interior Health offers these tips to help protect yourself and your family:

Never touch live or dead bats. Tell children not to play with or touch bats.

Make your home or cabin “bat proof.” Keep doors and windows closed, make sure window screens don’t have any holes, and keep the attic area free of bats by keeping all vents properly screened and by closing off other openings.

If you find a live bat in a room of your home, open the window and close interior doors until the bat leaves. · If your home or workplace is inhabited by bats, seek professional bat-control advice from a pest control or wildlife specialist. Bats are a protected species under the BC Wildlife Act. Excluding or evicting bats from their roost site so they move to another roost is the best way to remove bats.Avoid locations or activities where bats are likely to be found (e.g., caves).

If you have a pet dog, cat, or ferret, make sure they are vaccinated regularly against rabies.

Pets that were born and raised in B.C. pose a very low risk of transmitting rabies to humans; however, vaccinating your pets will protect them from rabies. If your pet has come in contact with a bat, contact your veterinarian to discuss the risk of rabies to your pet.

All contact with bats should be taken seriously. Bats have tiny sharp teeth and claws, so scratches or bites may not be visible or painful but could still be there. If you have been bitten or scratched:

Thoroughly wash the wounds with soap and water.

Contact your local public health unit or family doctor immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

Call a wildlife or pest control company to capture the bat. If trying to capture the bat yourself, avoid contact by wearing leather gloves, a hat, long sleeves, and pants.

Safely contain the bat in a secure, covered container to prevent others from being exposed. Keep the bat in a safe location until public health can arrange to pick it up and test it for rabies.

Early treatment is crucial to prevent rabies from progressing. Treatment involves a two-week period of vaccinations that must be administered as soon as possible after exposure. For more information:

See HealthLink BC File #07 at http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile07.stm

Government of BC: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/managing-pests/animals/bats

BC Community Bat Programs: http://www.bcbats.ca/

Just Posted

RCMP urge drivers to be more cautious

The top causes of accidents in the West Kootenay are distracted driving, impaired driving and speed.

FortisBC explains rate change proposal

FortisBC met with customers in Castlegar to explain their new time-of-use rate proposal.

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

Coroner says no foul play suspected in death of 79-year-old Stanley Okumoto

Most Read