Did you know that September 28th is World Rabies Day? This day is meant to raise awareness about Rabies and ultimately to prevent Rabies from occurring. Sadly, in many countries in the world people are still infected and almost 59,000 people are killed every year from this fatal disease.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected animals biting other animals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour, aggression, paralysis and death. Once signs are evident, Rabies is almost 100% fatal.
What is the Risk of Rabies in Canada?
Luckily (thanks to extensive vaccination programs), the risk of Rabies is low in Canada, but still present. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2019 (up to July), there were 28 confirmed cases of Rabies in Ontario (56 in Canada, including one human case in BC). Half of those cases were bats.
Other animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes are also more common carriers, though any mammal can be infected.
How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?
- Vaccinate your pets: Make sure your pets are always kept up to date with their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets These vaccination programs are an important part of the reason why the risk of rabies is so low in Canada.
- If you are bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound well and see a doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you were bitten by a wild animal so that the treatment for Rabies can be started.
- If your pet is bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound and take your pet to your veterinarian right away. Depending on the vaccination status of your pet, he may need to go into quarantine. To avoid this scenario, it is best to keep your pet up to date on its Rabies vaccine.
- Keep your pets indoors. Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.
- Teach your children not to approach wildlife.
- Bat proof your home. Learn more about this here: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/index.html
Rabies is 100% preventable, but people are still exposed every year which is why this is still an important issue. Keep your family safe by talking to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services about Rabies vaccinations for your pets.
Recommended read – Rabies in Ontario blog