A bat in Brampton tested positive for rabies, marking the first confirmed case of the viral disease in Peel this year, the region’s public health agency said Thursday.
The Region of Peel – Public Health reminded residents in the area to “stay vigilant around wild animals” in a news release.
“Transmission of rabies by bats to humans is rare,” said Dr. Jessica Hopkins, medical officer of health for Peel.
“However, residents who may have had physical contact with a bat should see a physician immediately to be assessed.”
Rabies is a viral disease typically spread to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. A bite or scratch from an animal carrying the virus can cause severe damage to the human nervous system and, if left untreated, can lead to death.
Hopkins said that transmission of the virus can be prevented after exposure with a rabies vaccine, though the vaccine must be given to a patient before symptoms appear.
It can be difficult in some cases to tell if an animal is rabid, though they move slowly and be unresponsive to loud noises, the news release said. Bats, in particular, may lose the ability to fly and stay out in daylight.
A 21-year-old B.C. man recently died after he “ran into” a rabid bat while outside on Vancouver Island in May. Nick Major did not notice a scratch or bite caused by the collision and succumbed to the virus in a Vancouver hospital about six weeks later.
Peel’s public health agency offered the following recommendations to protect yourself from rabies:
- Keep children away from any unknown, wild, stray or aggressive animals.
- Do not feed or keep wild animals as pets.
- Do not touch dead or sick animals.
- Ensure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date.
- Keep pets on a leash when off your property.
- Have your pet seen by a veterinarian if it comes in contact with wild animals.
- If physical contact is made with any wild animal, immediately wash the area of contact using soap and water to reduce the chances of an infection.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you come in contact with a potentially rabid animal such as a bat, skunk or raccoon.