Rabies, and why this disease matters to you and your family.
Written by Dr. Jacqueline Starink DVM Erin Mills Pet Hospital
Rabies. A terrifying and incurable disease that can affect the central nervous system of almost all warm- blooded animals (mammals) including people. Did you know Ontario continues to be affected by this virus, with 352 confirmed cases of the raccoon strain, as documented by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as of August 16 2017. To give some perspective, in 2014 there were no raccoon rabies cases confirmed in Ontario. The source of this recent raccoon rabies outbreak is from New York State. An extensive baiting program continues in the province with the aim to eradicate this disease, but the risks continue especially in the area surrounding Hamilton. Because many raccoons also have Distemper infection, there is concern that their immune system is not responding normally to the baiting program and so this outbreak will continue.
Under the Health and Protection Act, every owner or person having the care and custody of a cat or dog 3 months of age or older must ensure, and be able to prove with signed certificate, that their pet has been immunized against Rabies by a licensed veterinarian. There is no cure for Rabies when it occurs. Vaccination has saved countless lives of both humans and their domestic animals. Proper immunization following the manufacturers’ guidelines remains our best defense. Worldwide, prevalence is highest where vaccination rates are low.
Keep yourself and your family safe by teaching young children not to touch or approach animals they do not know. Avoid feeding wildlife. If wildlife have invaded your home/shed/garage, engage the assistance of professional wildlife removal services. Once wildlife have lost their fear of humans (through feeding and taming), they can be mistaken by other people as being infected. Rabid animals will lose their normal avoidance behavior, and become aggressive or depressed and paralyzed.
Do your part to help eradicate rabies and stay safe, vaccinate your pets!