Rabies has been in the news recently after 10 new cases were identified in raccoons in the Hamilton area back in December of 2015. The last time rabies was identified in Ontario was in 2005 and occurred with an outbreak in the raccoon population. In response to the confirmed cases, the Ontario government has started a baited oral rabies vaccine program aimed at reaching the skunk, fox and raccoon populations.
Rabies is a preventable virus that attacks the central nervous system of mammals including humans. It is transmitted by saliva from infected animals or through contact with moist tissues of the mouth, nose or eyes. Common carriers include raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. Unfortunately there is no cure for rabies and it is always fatal.
Signs of infection in an animal can include changes in behavior (unusually nervous, hiding, or unusually friendly); aggression, seizures, paralysis, or frothing at the mouth. Unfortunately the only way to diagnose rabies infection is by sampling a portion of the brain.
In order to ensure that you and your pets are fully protected, it is required by law to have your pets up to date with their rabies vaccines. Preventing your pets from roaming and keeping them under your supervision also protects them from contact with wild animals. If you or your pet has been bitten by any animal wild or domestic please seek medical attention immediately. If you notice any wild animals exhibiting abnormal behavior, do not approach them and keep your pet confined until you have had a chance to contact your local animal control agency.
Written by Fairmont Animal Hospital