Kitchener-Waterloo

Second Guelph bat tests positive for rabies, says Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says a woman was bitten by a rabid bat in her home. This marks the fourth bat since June to test positive for rabies in the area the public health board covers.

Woman bitten by rabid bat in her home, bat showed no symptoms of the infection

If you find a bat, do not touch it. The warning comes from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health after a fourth bat found in the area has tested positive for rabies. Public health said a woman was bit in her home and the bat showed no symptoms of the infection. (Janine Doucet-d'Eon/Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute)

A Guelph woman was bitten in her home by a bat that, although it showed no symptoms of infection, has tested positive for rabies, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says.

This is the fourth bat in the area that has tested positive for rabies since June 20 of this year, public health said in a notice on its website.

One of those reports came on July 31, when public health said a bat in Dufferin County had tested positive for rabies — the first time in the county since 1990. Three people were treated for rabies exposure.

On June 25, public health reported a bat found in a Guelph home had tested positive for rabies.

On Aug. 2, public health reported a rabid bat was found in Mount Forest.

Jessica Morris, manager of health protection at public health, says it's important to "maintain vigilance and awareness when you come in contact with wild animals."

Morris says there is heightened surveillance right now around bats and whether they carry rabies as a result of a B.C. man's death from the disease earlier this summer.

"Typically, though, in August we're a little bit more busy because the juvenile bats are coming out of the roost and so there's a lot more activity. We are just wanting people to stay away and to not touch them. But if there is an exposure, we can work with them on that," Morris said. 

"From the date of exposure, we'd like to know as soon as possible."

Morris says as people see bats around more often, they are calling public health and as a result, more bats are being tested and more results are coming out positive. 

How to stay safe

While there have been four cases of positive bats this year, Morris notes there haven't been any cases of other wildlife with rabies so far this year. However, she cautions people to also take care around wildlife as there's still a risk of rabies. 

Public health offered tips for people if they find a bat in their home:

  • If you have been in contact with the bat (including being bitten or scratched), go to the hospital emergency room or your family doctor right away. Rabid bats might not show signs of rabies.
  • Do not touch the bat.
  • Call your local animal control service or the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-866-673-4781.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has been dropping rabies vaccine bait packs in Wellington and Dufferin counties since July. 

They are green blister packs. When an animal bites into the bait, it swallows the vaccine and should develop an immunity to rabies in about two weeks.

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