A central Ontario health unit is issuing a warning after a woman was bitten by a rabid bat in her home.
According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District (HKPR) health unit, the bat entered the woman’s home dwelling and bit her while she was sleeping.
“The bat was later captured, sent for testing and tested positive for rabies,” the health unit stated Tuesday.
Richard Ovcharovich, HKPR environmental health manager, says the woman underwent treatment and is “recovering well.”
“Contact with any wild animal, including bats, should be avoided if at all possible,” he stated. “It’s never worth the risk, especially when rabies is involved.”
He added the incident is a reminder to take care in areas where bats may reside. Bats are capable of transmitting rabies to humans and other animals. Rabies is transmitted when there is contact with the saliva of an infected animal through a bite, lick or scratch.
“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,” he stated.
The health unit offers the following tips when it comes to bats:
- If you suspect you may have been bitten or had contact with a bat, immediately report it to a 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.
- Ensure pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date.
- Bat-proof the home. If bats are found in the home, seek advice from an animal control or wildlife conservation authority. Carefully examine the home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters, then take steps to seal them. For instance, caulk 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.
The HKPR says it is working with area veterinarians to offer low-cost rabies vaccination clinics on Saturday, Sept. 29. Contact your vet or the health unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or http://www.hkpr.on.ca for a list of times and locations.