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Group that handled bat in Belcarra park could have been exposed to rabies: officials

Fraser Health is warning a group of people who came in contact with an injured bat at White Pine Beach in Belcarra on Saturday to seek medical attention immediately.

The alert is the result of potential exposure to rabies. Fraser Health says a group of about nine people were handling the injured bat on the floating dock portion of the park around 7:45 p.m.

Bats are the only animal that act as a natural reservoir for rabies in B.C., and while the health authority says only about one per cent of the animals carry the virus, the possible health risk it presents is so severe that anyone potentially exposed should seek immediate treatment.

READ MORE: B.C. man dies of rabies, first confirmed human death in the province since 2003

In 2019, a B.C. man died of a rabies infection, after coming in contact with a bat on Vancouver Island.

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B.C. rabies victim identified

B.C. rabies victim identified – Jul 16, 2019

The man did not manifest symptoms until about six weeks later, and as a result, did not get treatment for the virus until it had progressed significantly.

Rabies is vaccine preventable, but Fraser Health says it is important for anyone who was potentially exposed to seek treatment immediately.

People recreating outdoors are also reminded never to feed or touch wildlife, including bats.

Read more:
B.C. man who died of rabies identified as ‘inspiring’ martial arts instructor

Anyone who finds an injured animal should contact the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for help to find a local wildlife rehabilitation centre.

While upwards of 60,000 people die worldwide every year from rabies, the virus is extremely rare in Canada.

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Just 25 Canadians have lost their lives to it since the 1920s, according to federal statistics.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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