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Health Unit offers safety advice for bat encounters

“Approximately three percent of bats carry the rabies virus.”

That’s according to Susan Healey, the Communications Coordinator for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.

The organization has put out some advice on what to do in the event of a bat encounter since the animal can carry dangerous or lethal diseases like rabies.

“The most common signs of rabies in bats are the inability to fly and resting in unusual places such as the ground or floor,” Healey says.

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If you’ve had a bat bite you, scratch you, or had its saliva get in your eyes, mouth, nose or a wound, you should seek medical attention immediately and thoroughly wash the affected area, according to Healey.

“If the bat is available, the Health Unit can arrange for it to be tested for rabies,” she adds.

Healey also says children may need to be vaccinated against rabies if they have any contact with bats since kids might not be able to properly explain whether they were bitten or scratched.

If you start to notice bats in your home, Healey recommends calling a pest control company.

“If you find a bat in your home and there was no human or animal contact, the bat can be released to the outdoors,” she continues. “Wear thick gloves when handling the bat to avoid being bitten.”

Healey also encourages getting your pets vaccinated against rabies, and says the Health Unit will start hosting rabies vaccine clinics for pets in September. 

A schedule for when and where the clinics are happening will be made public near the end of August, on the Health Unit’s website and social media pages.

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