Interior Health warning of unusual rabies activity in the Kootenay Lake region

Rabies was found in a skunk in the Nelson area

Rabies has been detected in skunk in the Nelson area. File photo

Rabies has been detected in skunk in the Nelson area. File photo

Health authorities are warning about unusual rabies activity in the Nelson area.

Interior Health (IH) and the BC Centre for Disease Control have confirmed a case of rabies in a Kootenay Lake region skunk.

“It is very unusual for a land-dwelling animal to contract rabies in B.C. and therefore, enhanced rabies surveillance is occurring in the region,” explained IH in a statement on Saturday.

IH is recommending that anyone in the region who has been bitten or scratched by a skunk since July 1 visit a primary care provider. Any domestic animals or pets bitten or scratched by a skunk should be seen by a veterinarian.

Rabies is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. It is not transmitted through urine, feces, or the spray from a skunk.

If you observe a skunk or any wild animal acting abnormally contact the B.C. RAPP line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

This could include unexpected behaviour such as being unusually friendly, docile, or overly aggressive.

IH also says it is not uncommon to detect rabies in bats. People should not to pick up or handle bats as bites and scratches from an infected bat can lead to rabies exposure.

How to protect yourself and others from rabies

• Do not approach, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, especially those that look sick or wounded.
• If you are bitten or scratched by any wild animal, wash the wound with soap and warm water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical care immediately.

How to protect your pets from rabies

• Vaccinate all pets against rabies regularly.

• Supervise pets when outdoors and keep pets away from wild animals.

• Keep pet food indoors or in a secured area to avoid attracting wild animals.

• If your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, consult with your veterinarian immediately.

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