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A worrying rise in numbers

A worrying rise in the number of bats being reported in homes in the tri-county area is causing the local Health Unit to sound the bat alarm.

In recent weeks, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has received multiple reports of bats being discovered inside homes in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

While there have been no incidents of rabid bats biting people this year, the Health Unit is urging people to be on the lookout for bats in their homes and take steps to ‘bat-proof’ their residence.

“Bats in the home can be a nuisance and potential health hazard. Although most animal bites are readily apparent, bites  inflicted by bats can be harder to notice, especially if it involves an infant, child or those with cognitive impairments.,” says

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Health Protection with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The more people who are exposed to wild animals like bats, the greater their risk of rabies.”

Rabies is fatal if left untreated, but is preventable if proper care is received immediately after an animal bite or scratch.

When it comes to bats, the Health Unit offers these tips:

• If you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, seek immediate medical attention. You should also contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.

• Inspect your attic, rafters and other areas of your home for evidence of bats. If you find or suspect bats are living on your property and want to remove them, contact a professional pest control company or wildlife removal company.

• If you discover a bat in your home’s living quarters, leave the room, close the door and contact a professional pest control company or wildlife removal company if needed. Do not touch a bat with your bare hands. If there was no human contact

  (bite or scratch), open a window and allow the bat to get out.

• If you discover a bat outdoors that is injured, acting strange or dead, do not touch it.

• As bats can transmit the rabies virus to dogs and cats, ensure your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date.

• Bat-proof your home, something especially important to do before the cold weather months when bats try to seek out warmer, indoor shelter. Seek advice from an animal control or wildlife conservation authority about what’s best.

If doing it yourself, carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters, then take steps to seal them. For instance, caulk any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch, ensure all doors to the outside close tightly, and use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics. Be aware that some species of bats can fit through openings as small as 16 millimetres.

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