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Health unit discusses rabies as bats look for roosting sites this time of year

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit are raising awareness about bats and rabies.

Senior Public Health Inspector Kim McCann says bats usually have babies in the spring and now many of the young bats are looking for a new home. The health unit says many bats use attics to roost and hibernate. Bats are also nocturnal animals and feed the most two or three hours after sunset. Bats are beneficial, but they can carry diseases like rabies and histoplasmosis, they can also transmit distemper and mange to household pets.

McCann says around three-percent of bats carry the rabies virus and if someone is bitten or scratched by a bat there are steps to take right away.

“The very first thing you want to do is wash the area with some warm water and soap and give your family health care provider a call and get an appointment and go in and consult with your doctor in regard to it.”

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McCann adds if you don’t have a family health care provider then you should go to the hospital.

If a bat is in your home and no humans or animals have come in contact, the health unit suggests trying to confine it to one room, opening a window and turning out the lights. The bat should then fly out early in the evening. People dealing with bats should wear gloves and protective clothing.

It is mandatory that domestic dogs and cats get vaccinated against rabies in Ontario. In Prescott, rabies vaccination clinics will be held on Wednesday September 18th and 25th. The clinics run from two to six both afternoons at the Ed Yandeau Operations Centre at 950 Sophia Street. The cost is $20 per animal and it is cash only.

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