Northern Health revises rabies warning after second rabid animal found in Vancouver?s Stanley Park

Northern Health has upgraded its notice for northern residents who may have been in Vancouver?s Stanley Park recently and made contact with wildlife. Late in May, the health region advised northern residents who had been in the park since April and had been bitten/scratched by a skunk to call a local health unit for advice.

Now that a second skunk from the park has tested positive for rabies, Northern Health is advising anyone who has visited Stanley Park since April and bitten/scratched by a skunk, bat, or raccoon to call their local health unit for advice and possible treatment.

?Physical contact with these animals could pose a small but real risk of rabies infection,? said Dr. Lorna Medd, Medical Health Officer. ?We also want to reiterate that bats in the region can carry rabies, and northern residents should protect themselves and their pets if they?re bitten or scratched by a bat. The likelihood of this happening increases during warmer weather.?

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. The disease affects the nervous system. Symptoms include headache, fever, difficulty swallowing, drooling, muscle spasm or weakness, and strange behavior. If not treated in time, rabies kills almost all of its victims.

Northern Health is also making the following recommendations regarding physical contact with bats:

* People who come into contact with a bat whether or not there?s an obvious bite or scratch should contact their physician or local health unit for advice. This may include a recommendation for a vaccination that will protect against rabies; ?People should never touch sick or injured bats with bare hands. If contact happens, it?s important that the bat be retained for testing and health advice obtained; and *Pets should always be kept up to date with rabies shots to eliminate the possibility that a bat could infect them, and possibly transmit the infection to their owner.

For more information on rabies or any other health issue, please call the BC NurseLine toll-free at 1-866-215-4700, or TTY at 1-866-889-4700 for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Registered nurses at this line can provide confidential health information and advice… 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Translation services are available in 130 languages. See the BC HealthGuide on-line at www.bchealthguide.org for more information, or read the BC HealthFile on rabies: http://www.bchealthguide.org/healthfiles/hfile07.stm