Protect yourself against rabies, report all wild animal bites
August 28, 2013
LETHBRIDGE – Following the discovery of a bat that tested positive for rabies, Albertans are reminded wild mammals – bats, coyotes, raccoons and skunks – might carry the disease.
If bitten or scratched by a stray or wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and contact your local public health office (in Lethbridge 403-388-6690) as soon as possible. You can also call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.
“Each year in Alberta, a number of bats test positive for rabies,” says Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Medical Officer of Health for the South Zone of Alberta Health Services. “Bats can pass rabies onto other bats, pets or stray animals.”
Stray dogs, cats and ferrets can also carry the rabies virus. Vaccination of household pets decreases the risk.
Any household pet bitten by a wild animal should be immediately taken to a veterinarian.
To avoid contact with the rabies virus:
- Avoid contact with bats.
- Have pets vaccinated against rabies. If you aren’t the first owner of your pet, ask for a certificate of rabies vaccination. If no document exists, confirm with the pet’s veterinarian that the pet got the vaccine.
- Never touch or try to pet or catch a wild or stray animal. Teach children to avoid these animals.
- Secure garbage and other items that attract animals.
- Secure open areas of your home, such as pet doors, chimneys, unscreened windows or any place that wild or stray animals could enter.
- Never handle a dead animal without proper protection.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.9 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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