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Rabies is Preventable. Let us tell you how!

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection of animals that can be transmitted to humans. It is caused by a virus, which attacks the central nervous system and eventually affects the brain. The virus is usually found in the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms occur. Rabies can occur in any warm-blooded animal, domestic and wild- commonly, dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons, skunks, wolves and bats. Animals having potential interactions with people such as cattle and horses can acquire rabies and may transmit the disease to humans.

Rabies Prevention

To prevent rabies:

  • Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination up to date
  • Avoid feeding or handling wild animals
  • Avoid strays and do not pet unknown animals
  • Supervise your pets. Don’t let them run free, especially at night
  • Do not leave your pet’s food outside, as this may attract other unwanted animals
  • Do not touch domestic or wild animals that look sick or are acting strangely even if you want to help them

Rabies Investigations

If you have been bitten by an animal:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention. A health care provider will do a risk assessment to determine if rabies vaccine is needed.
  • The health unit will investigate all reports of animal bites and scratches with most animals being quarantined for a 10-day period.
  • In any quarantine situation we remind the public that we don’t take their animals away from them during or after the quarantine period.

The PHU will continue to work with pet owners and local vets to protect the public and other animals from the spread of rabies. It is important animal owners work with the health unit to protect the public and other animals from the potential spread of the rabies virus.

Health professionals are responsible to report animal incidents to their local health units. Animal incidents can be reported by calling the Porcupine Health Unit at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818 where someone can be reached 24 hours a day.

Rabies Vaccinations

The Porcupine Health Unit is asking pet owners to ensure their pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date. As of July 1, 2018, rabies vaccination has become mandatory in the Province of Ontario under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA). These changes include the following:

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 3 months in Ontario must be vaccinated regularly against rabies.
  • All horses, cattle, sheep or other livestock intended to come into direct contact with the public must also be vaccinated. However, if these animals are only accessible to persons responsible for their care and control will remain exempt from the rabies immunization requirement.

Rabies vaccinations for your pets need to be updated every 1 to 3 years depending on the vaccine product given. The Porcupine Health Unit will be giving animal owners sufficient time to comply with this new regulation.  Contact your veterinarian for more information or to inquire if your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.