Vancouver – Public Health officials at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) would like to speak to an individual who handled a bat near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The individual left information about the bat’s condition.
The bat has tested positive for rabies.
The individual is asked to call VCH Public Health at 604-675-3900 to assess their need for vaccination.
Since rabies is endemic in bats in British Columbia, the public are advised to avoid handling bats.
Bats are a valuable part of the B.C. ecosystem, but people should stay away from the furry creatures as they can carry rabies, a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system.
If a bat is infected with rabies it can transmit the disease to humans when its saliva comes into contact with a person’s mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) or through a break in the skin. The most recent human case of rabies in B.C. linked to a bat strain of the virus was in 2003 and it was fatal.
The majority of human contact with bats happens between July and September when bats are most active and juveniles are weaned.
In the Lower Mainland, injured bats can be reported to the Wildlife Rescue Association at 604-526-7275. On the Sunshine Coast, injured bats can be reported to the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at 604-886-4989.
People who have been bitten or scratched by a bat (or other possibly rabid animal), or who have handled a bat should immediately do the following:
- Thoroughly wash the bite or scratch with soap and water, using lots of water to flush the wound;
- In the case of handling a bat, wash hands thoroughly;
- Seek medical attention right away;
- If the bat is still alive and available, have a wildlife expert capture it and contact VCH at 604-675-3900 for testing. If the bat is dead, simply contact VCH.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, and Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Anna Marie D’Angelo, Senior Media Relations Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health
After hours and over the weekend: 604-202-2012