Region confirms first rabies case this year

York Region is reminding residents to avoid moving or attempting to relocate any wild or strange animals, especially those that may be behaving oddly, after a bat tested positive for the rabies virus in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

While the risk of rabies remains low, the rabies virus can be fatal to unvaccinated pets and to humans if not treated, the Region warns. A post-exposure vaccine is available for people who come into contact with a potentially rabid animal.

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

If you’ve been bitten, scratched or had contact with an animal, collect the owner or custodian’s contact information. Immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes and apply antiseptic. Seek medical attention from a health-care provider to assess your risk and discuss treatment options.

Report the incident to York Region Public Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or 1-888-335-0111 after hours, weekends or holidays. A physician, registered nurse in the extended class, veterinarian, police officer or any other person who has information concerning a bite, scratch or contact with an animal capable of the transmission of rabies is required to notify Public Health as soon as possible. Information must include name and contact information of the exposed person.

York Region advises you to avoid potential infection by ensuring your pets are up to date on their mandatory rabies vaccination. Protect your pet from coming into contact with wild animals by keeping them on a leash when they’re off your property. If you suspect your pet or livestock has come into contact with a bat, skunk, raccoon or other wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Take steps to keep wild or stray animals away from your home and contact a professional company to proof your home from nesting wild animals. Never touch a dead animal with your bare hands. If you must dispose of a dead animal, wear thick protective gloves and use a shovel.

Learn more about rabies control, including how to bat proof your home, at

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