Rabies

Rabies is a very serious disease caused by a virus that affects mammals, including humans. It is passed along in saliva through biting or direct contact with broken skin or mucus membranes. The virus then travels through nerves to the brain where it causes inflammation and symptoms appear. Once symptoms appear, the disease is always fatal.

Bats
Bats are the only animals to date that have been identified as carrying rabies in Nova Scotia. Bats have small teeth and you might not notice if you had been bitten, especially while asleep. It is recommended that if a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, a child, a mentally challenged or intoxicated person you should contact your doctor and public health officials.

Symptoms
Animals that are sick with rabies may be unusually aggressive, trying to attack and bite people or other animals. Some may change their behaviour and seem unusually friendly. They could look sick and have trouble walking or a bat might have trouble flying. Animals that have rabies in their system may also seem healthy but are still able to spread the infection before they get symptoms.

Bites
If you are bitten, wash the area with soapy water for at least 5 minutes and seek medical attention immediately.

Vaccine & Treatment
A rabies vaccine is available for people at high risk. Treatment given after receiving a bite is highly effective as long as no symptoms have appeared.

Resources

Rabies, Enjoy the Outdoors Safely
NS Department of Health
1-800-387-6665

Rabies Fact Sheet
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
902-426-2110