Bat encounters can put you at risk for rabies. Image Credit: Contributed

Risk of rabies

Bat bites can expose you potentially fatal disease.

Whether you think bats are creepy or cute, one thing for sure is you don’t want to come in physical contact with them.

The reason is bats are the primary carrier of the rabies virus in B.C.

Jennifer Jeyes, a communicable disease specialist with Interior Health working out of Vernon, says rabies is almost always a fatal disease if not treated in time, as it attacks the nervous system.

Jeyes said between four and eight per cent of bats that are tested after coming in contact with people are found to have the rabies virus.

The disease is transmitted when a bat’s saliva comes in contact with a person’s mucus membranes—eyes, nose or mouth—or through a break in the skin caused by a bite.

To learn more:

There is both an antibody remedy and vaccine that can stop the spread of rabies, but quick response to suspected bat bite is critical.

Shots are called for over the first two weeks of a positive diagnosis to prevent the rabies virus from reaching the nervous system.

“Early treatment is crucial to prevent rabies from progressing…the treatment vaccinations must be administered as soon as possible after being exposed to rabies,” Jeyes said.

But the treatment process has become more effective and less needle-invasive over time.

“The days of getting a shot through your bellybutton for 25 days in a row are past,” she said.

“The vaccine injections now go into different muscles, such as upper arm, hip or thigh, depending on the volume that has to be given. For an average healthy person, after two weeks the vaccine and globulin antibody administered is sufficient as your immune system starts producing its own response.”

To learn more:

She said there 61 reported cases of potential exposure to rabies within the Interior Health region last year.

Jeyes said if you suspect of being bitten by a bat, contact your public health unit, doctor or go to hospital emergency right away to verify and get treatment. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

“We tell people to take it seriously and take precautions to avoid contact with bats,” she added.

“Bats are fascinating creatures, incredibly important to the ecosystem and they eat an enormous quantity of insects, such as mosquitos. But they deserve our respect.”

Just Posted

Old timbers grace new Timmy’s

The newest Tim Hortons just outside of Oliver was officially opened Saturday

Penticton Bantam Elks hockey win league title

The Penticton bantam Rec 1 BPO Elks team won the South Central Bantam Recreation Championship

Strong showing for local gymnasts

Local competitors do well in provincials

Okanagan-Similkameen region’s natural beauty subject of photo contest

The South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club invites regional amateur photographers to submit their photos

Penticton Vees erase two-goal deficit to defeat Trail

The Vees take Game 1 of the second round of the BCHL playoffs

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Most Read