The Vancouver Health Authority is asking residents to avoid contact with bats, due to an increased risk of rabies.
Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in the province.
The health authority warns people to avoid physical contact with bats, and to seek immediate medical attention if they have been bitten by, or have had any physical contact with a bat.
While rabies can be prevented with a vaccine after exposure to the virus, immunization is ineffective once symptoms develop.
Rabies is rare among humans. There have been only two human cases of rabies in B.C. residents since 1985 – both linked to a bat strain of the virus – and both fatal. Even if the disease is rare, exposures to bats are frequent.
Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for the health authority, urges people – especially those with children – to be careful and vigilant.
“The best way to avoid rabies exposure is to avoid direct contact with bats. Bats are not pets; they are wild animals that can be dangerous at times. Children and adults need to know that bats should never be directly touched or picked up, whatever the condition of the bat – dead or alive.”
For more information on rabies go online to www.bccdc.ca, HealthLink B.C. by dialing 811 or view the B.C. HealthFiles on rabies at www.healthlinkbc.ca.