Rabies is back in Ontario, what should you do?

Have you been hearing about rabies on the news lately? That is because this is the first time in over a decade that raccoon rabies is circulating in the raccoon and skunk populations in Ontario! To date, there have been 76 raccoons and skunks that have tested positive for rabies.
Most of these are in the Hamilton region, but some have also been found in Haldimand-Norfolk and Niagara regions. No rabid raccoons or skunks have been found in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph area, but surveillance efforts continue by provincial and municipal partners.

Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of warm-blooded animals. It can affect any warm-blooded animal, including humans, pets, farm animals, bats and wild animals. Once the symptoms of rabies start, it is nearly always fatal. Rabies is spread by the saliva of infected animals, most commonly through a bite or scratch. It can also be spread when saliva touches an open wound or the moist tissues of the mouth, nose or eyes.

So what can you do to prevent rabies and reduce your risk?

  1. Make sure your dogs and cats have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. On Saturday April 16, from 10 am - 1 pm there is a rabies and microchip clinic located at Premiere Equipment in Ospringe (corner of Hwy 124 &125). For just $30, you can have your dog or cat immunized against rabies. Only cash will be accepted for payment and no appointment is necessary.

    If you can’t make the clinic in Ospringe, there will be a rabies clinic at the Stonegate Animal Hospital in Guelph on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1 from 10 am - 2pm. The rabies vaccine costs $25 and only cash will be accepted.Dog and cat on grass

  2. Keep your pets on a leash - never let them roam free outside. In addition, keep them indoors at nighttime to avoid contact with wild animals.

  3. Never feed or touch wild or stray animals. Teach this rule to your children too.

  4. If you notice a wild or stray animal behaving oddly or aggressively, call the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF) Rabies Hotline at 1-888-574-6656.

    If you’ve been bitten or scratched by ANY animal (wild, stray or a domestic pet):

    • Wash the wound with soap and water.
    • Contact your family doctor immediately. We can provide rabies vaccine to your doctor, if needed.
    • As soon as you can, call our Public Health Inspection Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753. After-hours, on weekends and holidays, call 1-877-884-8653.

Animals can spread rabies even before they show symptoms. There is no cure for rabies once symptoms start. The rabies vaccine must be given as soon as possible, before symptoms appear.