The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is reporting that two bats in the region tested positive for rabies last week. While there have been no reports of rabies in a human, the EOHU is reminding residents of eastern Ontario to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Rabies is a transmittable and deadly virus carried by infected bats and other mammals. It can be spread to humans and other animals through the saliva of an infected animal – primarily via bite wounds. It can also be spread when infected saliva comes into contact with a scratch, open wound or mucous membranes, such as those in the mouth, nose or eyes.
In order to protect the community, it’s required by law that all dogs and cats three months of age or older be vaccinated against rabies. Even indoor pets must get the rabies vaccine regularly because bats can enter any residence.
The EOHU also recommends the following measures to protect your family and pets from rabies:
- Don’t let your pets roam free outdoors.
- Attempt to keep bats from getting inside your home.
- Teach children not to touch wild animals or pets they don’t know.
- Avoid wild or domestic animals that are behaving strangely.
- Keep a safe distance from wild animals, even if they look healthy.
- Report all animal bites to the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120.
If you come across an injured animal when outdoors, do not touch it or bring it into your home to try to nurse it back to health. While it may be tempting to do so, it’s safer to call animal control and let them handle the situation.
If you or a loved one is bitten by an animal, contact your family physician or the emergency department as soon as possible and then report the bite to the EOHU. The EOHU will investigate and determine if rabies post-exposure treatment is necessary.