The Regional Municipality of York has received confirmation a bat has tested positive for the rabies virus in the Town of Richmond Hill. This is the first confirmed rabies case in York Region in 2017.

While the percentage of rabies-infected bats in Ontario is considered low, people should avoid approaching or coming into contact with the animals.

Rabies affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded mammals, including humans, and is transmitted through a bite, lick or scratch from an infected animal. While most reported cases involve wild animals such as bats, foxes, raccoons and skunks, dogs and cats are also at risk.

Infection with the rabies virus is usually always fatal. A post-exposure vaccine is available for people who come into contact with a rabid animal.

York Region Public Health investigates all animal exposure incidents. If you suspect you may have been bitten, scratched or had contact with a bat, or another animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water for a minimum of 15 minutes, seek medical attention and report the incident to York Region Public Health at 1-800-361-5653.

Below are some tips to avoid potential infection:

  • If you discover a bat or another wild animal that is injured, acting strange or dead, do not touch it – contact a wildlife or pest removal company to remove it
  • If you discover a bat in your home, leave the room, close the door and contact a wildlife or pest removal company – never attempt to catch the bat yourself
  • Bats and other wild animals can transmit the rabies virus to domestic pets such as dogs and cats – ensure your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccination; check the York Region Events Calendar for Low Cost Rabies Clinics dates and locations
  • Do not feed, touch or allow pets to come into contact with any wild or stray animal
  • If you suspect your pets or livestock have come in contact with a bat or another wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible
  • Take measures to keep wild or stray animals away from your home; store green bins and garbage containers inside the garage or basement; contact a professional company to “bat-proof” your home

For more information about rabies control, visit york.ca/health