Health officials have confirmed the first case of bat rabies in

Health officials have confirmed the first case of bat rabies in Hamilton this year.This is a reminder to stay away from bats and other animals that can carry rabies such as racoons, skunks, foxes, as well as stray or unknown cats and dogs.The city is currently dealing with an outbreak of rabies with the virus predominantly found in raccoons and skunks.Since December 2016, 260 animals have tested positive for it.Officials say bats in Hamilton have been carriers almost every year, and since 2013 eight bats with the virus have made contact with humans.“Because rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms start, we want our community to be aware of the serious outcome of rabies and the risk of rabies from bats and other animals. If someone is bitten or scratched by an animal they need to clean the wound and seek medical attention right away so their rabies risk can be assessed and rabies can be prevented,” says Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health, City of Hamilton.Health officials offer the following tips to prevent rabies:• Always keep a safe distance from, and avoid contact with wild animals including raccoons, skunks, bats, unknown dogs and cats and other wild animals. Rabies can make animals aggressive or it can make them appear sick, scared, or friendly.• Bat proof your home.• Call Hamilton Animal Services at 905-546-2489 if you see a dead, sick or strangely acting raccoon, skunk, bat, or other wild animal.• Do not feed, help, handle, relocate any wildlife or keep them as pets.• If you are bitten by an animal, or had direct contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the wound with soap and water, seek medical attention immediately or call Public Health Services at 905-546-2489.• Vaccinate your pets against rabies, keep rabies vaccinations current for dogs and cats to protect them, and prevent any spread to people.• Contact your vet if your pet is in contact with a wild animal, including bats.

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