RABIES in ONTARIO
Rabies has become quite the topic in the news in recent months. The latest update from officials at the MNRF (the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) is that yet another case of rabies was diagnosed this week in the Hamilton region (see the link provided below). This brings the total to 116 cases of raccoon strain rabies and 2 cases of fox strain rabies cases since December 2015!!
Astounding…yes – not to mention a very eye-opening realization for pet owners across the province of Ontario and beyond.
To backtrack a bit, we thought it would be a good idea to compile a brief factsheet to help explain exactly what rabies is, and more importantly, to illustrate the reasons why it is imperative to keep our pets current on their immunization.
- Rabies is caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals
- in Ontario the most common vectors for rabies transmission are bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons
- it can infect other mammals
- is transmitted via infected saliva (either by a bite or from contact with an open wound/exposed mucosal tissues i.e. lining of mouth/nose/membranes around the eyes)
- once symptoms are present in an infected animal, the disease is fatal
- affected animals generally fall into one of two main categories: paralytic/dumb rabies (paralysis/weakness, depression, isolating themselves) – and furious rabies (extreme aggression/agitation)
Rabies is a federally reportable disease in Canada.
At Royal York Animal Hospital, our AAHA Accreditation along with the fact that we’ve participated in additional voluntary training on Rabies Risk Assessment has prepared us well for the management of any possible human or animal exposure to this deadly virus.
Pet owners are legally required to ensure all pets over 3 months of age be vaccinated against rabies
- vaccination protects your pet, other animals they interact with and also you and your family!
The recent resurgence of rabies cases is an excellent reminder to ensure that your pet is protected
….and YES….even your INDOOR cat should be up to date on their Rabies vaccines. Why? Among other reasons:
1.There have been several cases of indoor cats being bitten by infected Bats that have come in the house unexpectedly
2.Some indoor cats actually do “spend time on the porch or the backyard”
3. If your cat bites someone (think Veterinarian/groomer etc) then proof of current rabies vaccines is required by Ontario Public Health. If you do not have this then your kitty will need to be quarantined for several weeks.
4. Many cats lifestyles change over their lifetime — it is not uncommon for a kitten who has only know the condo life to move to a suburban house with young children – and an opportunity to escape out unattended doors and windows occasionally.
4. It is very common for an indoor cat to occasionally dart out an open door into the great outdoors.
It is your responsibility – and it is the law.
See the links below for more information.
Dr. Annelle Valentin
Royal York Animal Hospital, 4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario