On June 9, 2023, Halton Region Public Health confirmed that a bat tested positive for rabies with no known human contact. The bat was found in Aldershot, a southwest neighborhood of Burlington. This is the first confirmed case of animal rabies in Halton Region this year.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes severe damage to the brain and spinal cord and, if untreated before symptoms appear, can lead to death. The virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal such as a raccoon, skunk, bat, dog, fox, or other wild animal, usually through a bite or scratch. Rabies illness in humans can be prevented by the use of a rabies vaccine, which is extremely effective, but only if it is administered before symptoms occur.
Although rabies in bats is rare, bites from rabid bats have caused almost all human cases of rabies in Canada over the past several years. Bats have small, needle-like teeth, and their bites easily go undetected. If you have been bitten, scratched or exposed to bat saliva, wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
It is not always possible to identify if a bat has rabies, however rabid bats may move slowly, lose the ability to fly, remain active during daylight hours or be unresponsive to loud noises. If you find a bat in your home, do not attempt to move it and contact your local Animal Control Services. To report a wild animal that you suspect may have rabies, follow the steps (external link) on ontario.ca/rabies (external link).
There are a number of ways you can protect your family and pets from rabies:
- Know what to do when exposed to a bat or any other animal:
- Call animal control services. Do not touch dead or sick animals with bare hands.
- Collect the contact information of the animal’s owner/custodian where applicable (their name, address and phone number).
- Immediately wash all bite or scratch wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention.
- Report all animal bites or scratches to Halton Region Public Health by calling 311.
- Other prevention and safety measures include:
- Educate children to stay away from any wild, stray or aggressive animals.
- Do not touch, feed or move wildlife, including young, sick or injured animals.
- Avoid animals that are behaving strangely.
- If you find a stray animal, report it to your local Animal Control Services.
- Do not keep wild animals as pets.
- Make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date.
- Keep your pet on a leash when off your property.
- Have your pet seen by a veterinarian if it has come in contact with a bat or other wild animal.
- Animal-proof your home by filling any holes that could allow animals to enter.
For more information on rabies, visit halton.ca or contact Halton Region Public Health by calling 311.
The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 624,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; paramedic services; waste management; public health; social assistance; children’s and seniors’ services; housing services; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development. For more information, call 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at halton.ca.