An Agassiz vet is asking the public to be extra vigilant around wildlife, following the discovery of a rabid bat in Harrison Hot Springs.
Dr. Laura Madsen said officials now “absolutely know for sure” that a bat found by a young boy had rabies.
The boy was able to catch the bat, which was flying around in the middle of the day. Madsen said that any wild animal acting out of the ordinary, and allowing itself to be caught, is the first sign that it may have the contagious disease.
“For you to see a bat in the daytime, moving around but not really flying, it’s weird,” she said. “If a four year old can catch it, it’s sick.”
When the boy caught the bat, his family brought it in to Madsen for her to see.
“They really love animals,” she said of the family. It was obvious to Madsen that the bat was suffering from a neurological problem, so she had it sent away for testing.
Now, she is hoping the public is extra cautious when encountering wild animals. It’s also a timely reminder that pet owners make sure their animals are up to date on their shots. While pets can be vaccinated for rabies, she said that an antidote is needed for those who have definitely been bitten by a rabid animal.
Some animals could have rabies, she said, and not show any signs for up to two years. Rabies is fatal to humans if left untreated, affecting the central nervous system. The first signs of rabies are flu-like symptoms. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency lists known cases of animal rabies online, and bats are listed as the most common cases in the province over the past few years.
Deaths from rabies aren’t common in Canada. A 73-year-old man from Central Alberta died in hospital in 2007, as a result of a bat bite in August 2006. Before that, a 52-year-old B.C. died in 2003.
The rabid bat was found last Friday, and the family involved wishes to remain unidentified.
Madsen’s main advice is to steer clear of any wildlife.
“If you see an animal that is going to let you near them, don’t go near it,” she said.