A bat, found at Keating Elementary School last week, has tested positive for the rabies virus. (File photo)

Bat found at Keating Elementary School tests positive for rabies

Island Health issues warning to parents, vaccine to anyone at risk of exposure

A bat, found on Keating Elementary School property last week, has tested positive for the rabies virus.

Island Health’s medical health officer Dee Hoyano sent a letter to parents and staff of the school on Monday.

According to the letter, Island Health Communicable Diseases assessed a number of people who may have come in direct contact with the bat, either touching or handling the animal. Those who were found to be at risk of exposure were given a preventative vaccine against rabies.

READ ALSO: Bat from Denman Island tests positive for rabies

The bat was found near the out of school care portable, after school hours. The area is currently out of bounds and will not be used during school hours.

Island Health states they believe it is unlikely that children attending the school would have had contact with the animal during school hours.

READ ALSO: B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Any child or adult that may have had direct contact with a bat on the school grounds is asked to call the Island Health Communicable Disease program immediately at 1-866-665-6626. Island Health emphasized seeing or being near the bat is not direct exposure and isn’t a risk for rabies.

Island Health notes parents should remind children to never interact directly with or disturb wildlife, including bats, adding if children find an animal that appears to be ill or dead they should tell a teacher or other responsible adult.

Hoyana says among the large number of people reporting bat exposures this summer, a high number of those could have been prevented if people had simply avoided touching the bat.

She recommends wearing protective layers, especially head protection, if you go out at night or around dusk when bats are out, also staying in better lit and open areas.

Only .5 per cent of bats in the province are thought to be infected with rabies. In B.C. 13 per cent of the bats submitted for testing have been found positive for rabies, the number may seem high but most bats that are submitted for testing usually are already displaying signs of illness or unusual behaviour.

The Island has submitted 40 bats to be tested this season and only two were positive for rabies.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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