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HKPR health unit issues warning after rabid bat found in home in City of Kawartha Lakes

The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit says a bat found in a home tested positive for rabies. Global File

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is warning residents to take precautions after a rabid bat was found in a home in the City of Kawartha Lakes

The health unit — which serves the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County — says a Big Brown Bat recently entered a family’s home. The bat was captured, sent for testing and subsequently found to be positive for rabies, a virus that affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans.

Read more: Mixed reaction from rescue groups as Canada bans commercial dogs from high-risk rabies countries

On Wednesday, the health unit said the affected family members were provided with post-exposure vaccine for rabies and are “recovering well in the aftermath.” The family-owned pets are also getting followup with a veterinarian on possible rabies exposure.

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Environmental health manager Richard Ovcharovich says the incident is a reminder for people to take care around bats and ensure their pets have updated rabies vaccinations.

“Contact with any wild animal, including bats, should be avoided if at all possible,” he said. “That message applies to people and pets. It’s never worth the risk, especially when rabies is involved.”

The health unit says rabies is transmitted when there is contact with the saliva of an infected animal through a bite, lick or scratch.

A post-exposure vaccine is provided for people in the event of a contact with a rabid animal. If left untreated, rabies is almost always a fatal disease.

The health unit advises if you suspect you have been bitten or had contact with a bat, immediately report it to your family doctor and the health unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5006.

If a bat is found in a home, do not touch it with your bare hands and call a professional pest or wildlife removal company. Open windows if possible for the bat to escape.

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