Medical health officials are asking residents to use caution when handling animals like bats. 

Recently, they have been seeing an uptick in the number of cases of rabies from animal bites and, in particular, bat bites. 

Medical health officer Dr. David Torr said it is important to immediately seek medical attention if you are bitten by an animal that could have rabies because symptoms don’t always show right away. 

“Once you do get a bat or other animal bite, it’s really important to check with your most responsible practitioner to get an assessment. Public Health usually gets involved as well to see what kind of risk you have, what the dynamics are, if we have an animal available that we can test, or whether we are observing an animal,” he said. 

Torr added that animals that carry rabies tend to display unusual behaviour and, those that have an advanced infection, will foam at the mouth. The example he gave is that many of the bat bites that came back positive for rabies happened during the day which is unusual since bats are nocturnal. 

Torr noted that it is not only rabies that you should worry about if you are bitten by an animal. 

“Bites typically can cause a lot of other bacterial infections and second infection because the teeth and the mouths of these animals are not entirely hygienic. They do carry other diseases, but those illnesses and diseases are easily treated,” he said. 

If you acquire a bacterial infection, Torr said the wound will display redness and irritation.  

While bacterial infections can be easily treated, Torr said rabies are more difficult to treat. He said there is no treatment for rabies other than a protocol of vaccinations immediately after the bite to help build up the body’s immunity to the infection. 

If you do need to handle an animal like a bat, Torr recommended either doing it with extreme caution or call a professional pest control service. 

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