Photo of Barrie office building
print header

MOH Column

Current   2017   2016   2015   2014   2013    2012    2011

Thanks to local veterinarians for helping to prevent rabies

Dec 04, 2015
The health unit has a mandate to “prevent the occurrence of rabies in humans.” This is no light responsibility: So far this year the health unit has investigated more than 1,100 animal exposures in Simcoe Muskoka, with 806 of those animals requiring quarantines.

By Dr. Charles Gardner, MOH

The health unit has a mandate to “prevent the occurrence of rabies in humans.” This is no light responsibility: So far this year the health unit has investigated more than 1,100 animal exposures in Simcoe Muskoka, with 806 of those animals requiring quarantines.

Because rabies can be transmitted in saliva from a bite or scratch, it is imperative that all cats and dogs be vaccinated. Failure to vaccinate can result in a fine or worse for the owner if the animal becomes infected and is involved in a biting incident.

If you or a family member were bitten by an animal, you would need to wash the wound right away with soap and water and then contact your doctor. You would then need to make sure the health unit was notified of the incident so it could be investigated and assessed for potential rabies exposure. The animal owner information would be used to assess the health of the animal. This one step can prevent the need for people to receive rabies shots—formally referred to as post-exposure rabies immunizations. This year to date, investigations have resulted in 78 people requiring rabies shots as a safeguard.

Because of the number of animal exposures—and because cat and dog rabies vaccination is law in Ontario—the health unit reaches out each year to local veterinarians asking them to host low-cost vaccination clinics in their communities.

The low-cost rabies clinic program has been running for over 20 years. This program is intended to offer the vaccine to animal owners who otherwise might not be able to afford them. It also helps increase the number of pets that are vaccinated for protection against rabies. This year a total of 27 local veterinarians hosted 36 clinics within Simcoe Muskoka, an increase from last year when more than 4,200 cats and dogs received the rabies shot that otherwise may not have been vaccinated.

The health unit would like to send a heartfelt thank you to the veterinarians, who voluntarily provide their time and staff to provide the rabies vaccine at low-cost clinics. This is in addition to the work they do to vaccinate cats and dogs against rabies, and other animal health related diseases, during routine annual health exams so important to a pet’s health.

Remember, you can reduce your risk by

  • keeping vaccination of cats and dogs up to date;
  • avoiding contact with, or feeding of, unfamiliar domestic animals and all wild animals,
  • especially avoiding any animal that is obviously ill, acting strangely, or is found dead;
    • and preventing pets from running loose outdoors.

For more information about rabies, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit our website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.

Dr. Charles Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health.

-30-

.
Current and archived MOH Columns are stored here. Earlier MOH Columns are maintained in an archive and can be retrieved by contacting the Health Unit during business hours.
Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?
Page
Feedback

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...