For the second time this month a bat with rabies has been found on elementary school grounds in Greater Victoria.
Island Health has confirmed the latest bat, which was deceased at the time it was found at Frank Hobbs Elementary School in Saanich, tested positive for rabies.
Cheryl Bloxham, spokesperson for Island Health, noted Island Health isn’t aware of anyone who came into direct, unprotected contact with the bat. However, if anyone did come into contact with the dead bat, they are being asked to call the Island Health Communicable Disease program immediately at 1-866-665-6626.
Island Health is also asking parents to remind children that they should never interact directly with or disturb wildlife, including bats. Children should not touch, poke or pick up any bat they may come across.
Earlier this month, a bat found at Keating Elementary School in Central Saanich also tested positive for rabies. According to a letter sent out to parents from Island Health, a number of people who may have come in direct contact with the bat were assessed. Those found to be at risk of exposure were given a preventative vaccine.
Island Health’s medical health officer Dee Hoyana says among the large number of people reporting bat exposures this summer, a high number of those could have been prevented if people had simply avoided touching the bat.
She recommends wearing protective layers, especially head protection, if you go out at night or around dusk when bats are out, also staying in better lit and open areas.
Only .5 per cent of bats in the province are thought to be infected with rabies. In B.C. 13 per cent of the bats submitted for testing have been found positive for rabies, the number may seem high but most bats that are submitted for testing usually are already displaying signs of illness or unusual behaviour.
In July, a B.C. man died from rabies after coming into contact with the bat six weeks earlier. His infection is the first case of human rabies in the province since 2003 and one of only 24 known cases in Canada since the 1920s – the most recent in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.
– With files from Nina Grossman
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