Parents warned after rabid bat found on Keating Elementary grounds

Island Health has advised parents and staff at Keating Elementary School that a bat found on the property has testified positive for the rabies virus

In a letter to parents and staff Monday, Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health, said the bat was found after school on Sept. 4 near the Out of School Care portable.

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A number of people who touched or handled the bat have been assessed by the Island Health communicable disease program, wrote Hoyano. Those considered to be at risk of exposure were given a preventative vaccine against rabies.

Hoyano said it’s unlikely children attending the Central Saanich school had contact with the bat during school hours. The portable area is currently out of bounds and not used during school hours,

However, if any child or adult had direct contact with a bat on the school grounds, they should contact the communicable disease program immediately at 1-866-665-6626, she wrote.

“Please note that seeing or being near a bat is not a direct exposure nor a risk for rabies. Direct contact must be touching a bat with bare hands or skin or receiving a bite or scratch from a bat,” Hoyano advised.

The letter asked parents and staff to remind children that they should never interact directly with 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. Wild animals are an important part of our ecosystem and should be treated with respect and care — hands off is best,” wrote Hoyano.

She also asked parents and staff to remind children that if they find an animal that appears to be ill or dead, they should immediately tell a teacher or other responsible adult so it can be removed as soon as possible.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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