Most humans get infected with rabies after being bitten by an infected mammal. Any mammal can be infected by the virus. Wild animals, domestic pets and farm animals have all been known to carry the disease.
In British Columbia (BC), the only animals that carry rabies are several species of bats. About 0.5% of bats carry rabies in BC but on average, 13% of bats sent for rabies testing are positive. That is because bats that come in contact with humans or domestic animals are more likely to carry rabies. Bat bites and scratches may transmit rabies. Bats should be left undisturbed unless there is a suspicion of rabies exposure or other harm.
In BC, rabies spread through bites from other animals is rare. However, strange behaviour in pets and other animals may mean they are infected with rabies. Avoid contact with any wild or unfamiliar animal.
In other parts of Canada, rabies is found in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, red foxes and arctic foxes.
Dog bites cause most human rabies in developing countries. They are responsible for most of the 55,000 cases of rabies per year worldwide. Most cases occur in Africa and Asia. BC travelers to Asia are incurring monkey bites more often than in the past. Since monkeys can carry rabies, rabies vaccination is recommended after a monkey bite or scratch.