LITTLE CURRENT–The Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU) is reporting that a bat has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found dead at a home in Little Current on September 3, 2012.
While bats are very helpful in keeping insect populations in check, it is important to be aware of a few simple precautions to protect yourself against rabies.
If left untreated, rabies is fatal in humans. People can become infected with rabies when they are bitten or scratched by a rabid bat or when a rabid bat’s saliva comes into contact with broken skin or moist tissues in the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Rabid bats are rarely aggressive. A bat may be rabid if it is active by day, if it is found in a place where bats are not usually seen, or if it is unable to fly. These bats are often easily approached, but should never be touched.
A bat has sharp, needle-like teeth that may cause a relatively painless, unnoticeable bite. If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, or if saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and consult a health care provider.
“We strongly encourage anyone who is bitten or scratched by animals to consult a health care provider and to report the incident to the Health Unit as soon as possible,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury and District Medical Officer of Health.
Holly Browne, a spokesperson with the SDHU, explained that if a bat is found in a yard or property, the best line of defence is to simply leave the bat alone. “If there’s no contact, there’s no concern,” she said.
The best way to prevent coming in contact with bats is to keep them out of your home or cottage by covering all outside points of entry.
The best time for bat-proofing is in the fall when most bats have left to hibernate. Bat-proofing involves:
· Filling holes in the building’s exterior-even those as small as one-quarter to half an inch in diameter. For example, filling plumbing fixture holes with caulk or steel wool;
· Tightening screens, capping the chimney, and placing draft guards under doors leading to the attic and outside; and
· Watching where the bats exit at dusk and then permanently sealing the openings.
The Health Unit is also reminding cat and dog owners of the requirement to keep their pet’s rabies vaccinations up to date.
For more information on bats and rabies, please call the Sudbury and District Health Unit at 705-522-9200, ext. 398, toll-free 1-866-522-9200, or visit www.sdhu.com. For help with bat-proofing, contact a pest management company.