Toronto Public Health (TPH) has received lab results confirming that a bat found in High Park on Monday, July 19 has tested positive for rabies. TPH received the positive test results on Wednesday, October 20. Given the bat was found in a public place, and as the incubation period for rabies can be up to one year, TPH is alerting the public as a precaution.
If you or a member of your family were in High Park on or around July 19 and touched or handled a bat, please contact TPH at 416-338-7600 to have your exposure risk to rabies assessed.
Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. If it is left untreated before symptoms appear, rabies will lead to death. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually entering through a bite or more rarely a scratch.
Transmission of rabies by bats to humans is rare and there is an overall low risk of rabies in bats in Ontario. It is estimated that only two per cent to three per cent of Ontario’s bat population are infected.
It is not always possible to identify whether a bat or other animal has rabies without testing; however, rabid bats commonly lose their ability to fly or do not fly well. Other signs that a bat may be rabid include wandering around in the daylight, crawling on the ground or otherwise acting strangely.
Transmission and serious illness to humans can be prevented after exposure by immunization with the rabies vaccine. The vaccine is extremely effective, but must be administered before symptoms appear.
Residents should avoid physical contact with all bats. Residents who may have had physical contact with this or any other bat should see a healthcare provider immediately to be assessed.
While the overall risk of being exposed to rabies remains low for the public, the following preventive measures can be taken to reduce the risk:
If you are bitten or scratched or if you have concerns about an exposure to this or any other bat or animal, follow these steps:
More information is available here
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Media contact: Toronto Public Health Media Relations, email@example.com