It was a bizarre sight: a bat, normally a nocturnal animal, dive-bombIng a person in broad daylight near Lakelse Lake in Terrace, B.C.

When the bat was caught, it tested positive for rabies.

The individual wasn't harmed, but Dr. Melissa McLaws, a veterinary epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, says rabies is a serious issue because it is "almost universally fatal if a person gets it or an animal gets it."

She says that less than one per cent of wild bats have rabies, but "we do find positive bats every year in every part of British Columbia".

Signs of rabies in bats

Dr. McLaws says that, in general, people should avoid touching bats — dead or alive.

"Bats with rabies are often quite vocal, and they might be more prone to abnormal behaviours such as actively seeking to bite other animals or people," she said.

Another sign?

"Bats are nocturnal animals so if you see a bat that's out during the day," she said. "Stay away from it."

B.C. SPCA safety tips

  • Don't touch or go near bats either living or dead.
  • Teach your children to avoid bats.
  • If a bat comes into your home, open the windows and let it out.
  • Call a wildlife officer or pest control officer if the bat persists.
  • Protect your pets. A rabies vaccination is available for cats, dogs, and ferrets.

"Don't be scared of bats but have a healthy respect for them. Know that rabies is indeed out there and take care of yourselves, your families and your pets," said Dr. McLaw.

According to the B.C. SPCA, the last bat-to-human rabies transmission in B.C. was in 2003. The victim died.

With files from Daybreak North.