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Bat tests positive for rabies in Woodstock

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The first animal case of rabies in over five years was recently reported in Oxford County.

On Tuesday, August 30, a resident in Woodstock discovered a bat that appeared to be injured on the property. The resident was bitten by the bat when an attempt was made to remove it. The bat subsequently tested positive for rabies on Friday, Sept. 2.

The resident is undergoing rabies preventative treatment. It is important to always seek medical attention if bitten by a bat, or any animal.

It is also a reminder to residents to always supervise pets outdoors, vaccinate pets against rabies, and avoid contact with wildlife.

Rabies has emerged in the raccoon and skunk population in recent months in the Hamilton area and Brant County with 162 confirmed (animal) cases this year as of the end of July. Previously, raccoon strain rabies had not been seen in Ontario for more than a decade. Additionally, two cases of fox rabies have recently been identified in Perth County. Although the risk to the general public is low, ensuring your pets have up to date vaccinations is always a good idea.

Rabies is an infectious and contagious disease of the central nervous system. If left untreated, it is fatal.

Low-cost vaccination clinics

To help prevent the spread of rabies, Oxford County Public Health and local veterinarians are once again teaming up to host low-cost rabies vaccination clinics across Oxford County on Saturday, Sept. 24. The cost is $20 per pet and payments must be in cash. Clinic times and locations can be found online.

Please note: These clinics are not a substitute for regular veterinary care including physical examinations and other recommended vaccinations. Check with a local veterinarian for more information.

Pets attending one of the clinics must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older to be vaccinated.

ABOUT RABIES

Rabies is a virus found in the saliva of infected wild animals such as skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats. It can spread to other wild animals, farm animals, pets and humans through a bite, scratch, cut or contact with the moist tissues of the mouth, nose and eyes.

To keep your pets and family rabies-free:

* Make sure your pet vaccinations are up to date.

* Keep your pets indoors at night.

* Teach children to stay away from wild animals and strange dogs and cats.

* Supervise children around pets.

* Always ask permission from a pet owner before trying to pet an animal.

* Do not attempt to touch or feed wild animals. 

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