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August 31, 2004
For immediate release

Mount Stewart Cat Had Bat Rabies

Health and Social Services

The cat which was recently found to have rabies was infected with a bat strain of rabies, Chief Health Officer Lamont Sweet announced today. This is the first case of rabies in Prince Edward Island since three foxes were found to have bat rabies in 1992, which means that the rabies status of the province remains unchanged.

Four people who came into contact with the cat have been given treatment to prevent rabies. Animal contacts of the cat are being investigated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Bat rabies continuously circulates at a low level in the bat population and sporadically spills over into other animal populations. Evidence suggests that other animals infected with bat rabies most often die without transmitting the virus.

“Anyone who has direct contact with a bat and is uncertain as to whether they have been bitten should have the situation assessed,” Dr. Sweet noted.

“As always, pet owners should be cautious if their pet loses its appetite or changes its behaviour, especially if the animal becomes aggressive or unusually quiet. In such instances, contact your veterinarian immediately.”

In all cases of animal bites, wash the area of the bite thoroughly with soap and warm water as soon as possible and seek medical attention immediately.

The best way to protect yourself, your family and your pets from most strains of rabies is to have your pets vaccinated. Also, keep your pets under control, away from stray or wild animals. Make sure that children understand that they should never approach an unfamiliar animal, even if it appears to be friendly.

Public Health should be informed of any bite from an animal suspected to have rabies as soon as possible. To notify Public Health, call toll-free 1-800-958-6400.

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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