A bat found on the grounds of a Greater Victoria Elementary School has tested positive for rabies, the second occurrence in less than a month.
Island Health said that a bat, which tested positive for the rabies virus, was found dead on the grounds of Frank Hobbs Elementary School on Sept. 11. Island Health received the test results on Wednesday.
In a note to parents and staff, medical health officer Dr. Dee Hoyano said the bat was discovered near the garbage/compost bin area. Hoyano said staff were alerted and the bat was promptly removed.
“To the best of our knowledge, no student or staff had direct unprotected contact with the bat (i.e. touching or picking up the bat with bare hands, or receiving a bite or scratch from the bat). There is no risk of rabies transmission without direct contact,” Hoyano said in the letter.
Island Health is asking anyone who had direct contact with the bat on school grounds to call the Island Health Communicable Disease program immediately (1-866-665-6626). They are also asking parents and guardians to remind children to never interact with wildlife or disturb wildlife, including bats.
“Children should not touch, poke, or pick up a bat. No one should tease or taunt any wildlife by poking it with sticks, nor try to catch it or throw things at it,” Hoyano said.
Earlier this month, on September 4th, staff with an after-school care program held in portables near Keating Elementary in Central Saanich found a rabies-infected bat.
Several people were provided with a preventative vaccine against rabies after they had direct contact with the bat, such as touching and handling.
In July, a 21-year-old Parksville man died six weeks after contracting rabies from a bat on Vancouver Island. It was the first confirmed death from the disease since 2003.
Island Health said this year, three bats out of 50 submitted for testing have had rabies. According to Island Health, this is in line with the provincial average of less than 13 per cent of submitted bats testing positive for rabies.