Rabies? Bats Are Safer Than Dogs -- But Be Careful.

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
September 28th, 2016

 World Rabies Day:  Sept 28, 2016

Bats and Other Wild Things — and Rabies

Having an occupied bat house in your yard poses very low risk to human health, and statistically is safer than owning a dog.  Bats are an integral part of a healthy environment, providing pollination services in some parts of the world,  essential natural insect control and an opportunity to learn about wildlife in our backyards.  Besides, they’re cute.  But lately, they’ve been given a bad rap about being carriers of rabies — along with other mammals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, dogs, and – rarely — rodents.

Rabies is a viral infection causing inflammation of the brain.  It is usually transmitted by being bitten or scratched by an animal carrying the rabies virus.  And it is nearly always fatal unless treated with vaccination promptly after exposure; four doses of vaccine are administered over a two-week period, and the recovery rate is reported to be 100% after vaccination.   

Here’s what you need to know about bats and rabies:  In populations of wild bats in western Canada, less than 1% of bats test positive for rabies. Also, there are two forms of rabies – ‘dumb’ and ‘aggressive’. The ‘dumb’ form is where the animal crawls into a corner and dies, and this is the most common form in bats.

Contracting rabies from a bat is extremely rare, but rabies is a serious illness that is nearly always fatal if not treated in time. Since 1970 — a period of 45 years — five people have died from rabies in Canada; four of these deaths followed exposure to bats.

Simple precautions will reduce chances of exposure to disease:

·         Never handle bats or other wild animals with your bare hands,

·         Beware of bats that act strangely, such as flying during the day,

·         Beware of other animals behaving strangely or aggressively,

·         If you are bitten or scratched by a bat or other animal, seek medical attention for a potential rabies infection immediately from the public health department or your doctor, and

·         Vaccinate household pets.

For more information on bats and human health, please visit www.bcbats.caor the BC Centre for Disease Control www.bccdc.ca, or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.

Categories: EducationHealth

Other News Stories