The good and the bad on bats

Bats are the major carrier of rabies in B.C. but also important to the ecosystem.

Freaky and fascinating bats are important to the eco-system

Freaky and fascinating bats are important to the eco-system

Spring has sprung, birds have returned, bees and other insects are reappearing. And so are bats.

Interior Health is warning that bats can put you at risk for rabies, and whether you are fascinated or fearful, the bottom line is you should avoid physical contact with bats as they are the primary carrier of the rabies virus in B.C.

Rabies is a very serious disease that affects the nervous system. It is almost always fatal if not treated in time. Last year, 32 people in the Interior Health region were treated for potential exposure to rabies.

“Many people will be bringing summer gear out of storage or heading out to open the cabin. Activities like these can lead to unexpected encounters with bats,” said Jennifer Jeyes, Communicable Disease Specialist with Interior Health. “Bats often fly into poorly sealed cabins and homes, they roost in attic spaces and they can even be found hanging inside closed patio umbrellas.”

Juliet Craig from the Kootenay Community Bat  Project agrees that people should be cautious about coming into contact with bats, and the health authority should be notified if you have any contact.

“We also promote the messages that bats are very important in our ecosystems, they are not dangerous — if you don’t touch them — and that half of the bat species in BC are of conservation concern,” Craig said.

According to IH, between four and eight per cent of the bats that are tested after coming into contact with people are found to have the rabies virus. Infected bats can transmit rabies to humans when their saliva comes into contact with a person’s mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) or through a break in the skin.

Craig says the overall number of infected bats is very small.

“Scientists estimate that the incidence of rabies in the free flying bat population is less than one per cent, and this rate varies between species. This risk is low and negligible if proper precautions are taken (i.e., never handle bats, keep pet vaccinations up to date and keep human living areas sealed tightly from areas where there are bats). There is no link between having a bat-house or bats in a building and a higher incidence of rabies. Since 1950, there have been only six cases of bat-related rabies mortality in Canada.”

To contract rabies you must come into direct contact with an animal carrying the virus, Craig says. Direct contact means that you must have contact with infected blood or saliva and exposure means contact through a break in your skin. This could be a very small (almost invisible) break in the skin or internally (mouth or nose). Avoid direct contact with bats. In all cases where there has been potential exposure (i.e., contact with bat saliva or blood) to humans, contact your local health authority immediately. If possible, collect the bat that has come into direct contact with a person so it can be submitted for rabies testing. Live bats should be placed in a sealable container (equipped with air holes) and kept in a cool, dry place away from pets or humans until testing can be arranged. Use leather gloves to collect the bat, whether it is dead or alive. For more information, see http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile07.stm. Note that Interior Health has changed its policy and no longer requires post-exposure rabies vaccinations if a bat is simply found in a bedroom.

Pet owners should make sure that rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for all pets. Local veterinarians should be consulted whenever pets have been exposed to a bat or any other potentially rabid animal.

 

Just Posted

The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group is active again after a few years off and are working to find a home for Gloria in Kimberley. Photo taken at a KRRG fundraiser several years ago. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group active once more

KRRG working to find a refugee a safe place to live in Kimberley

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read