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Reporting Animal Bites and Scratches

The Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act, Regulation 557 Communicable Diseases requires that schools report all animal bites and potential rabies exposures (including bat exposures) to the health unit for investigation.

In the event a student is bitten or scratched by an animal school principals should:

  • Use this Rabies and Animal Exposure Incident Report Form (PDF) to collect required reporting information
  • Fax the completed form to the SMDHU Rabies Fax Line at 705-725-8132
  • All incidents involving facial, neck or head bites, or high risk exposures involving bats, raccoons, skunks or foxes should also be reported by telephone to SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 ext. 8811 (Monday to Friday between 8:30am – 4:30pm) or to our After-hours On-Call Public Health Inspector at 1-888-225-7851 (evenings, weekends or holidays).

In the event that a wild or domestic animal involved with an incident dies or displays symptoms of rabies, principals are advised to consult with public health as the animal will need to be submitted for rabies testing; health unit staff are available to facilitate such testing.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a serious infectious disease caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system of humans and other mammals. It can be spread from wild animals to domestic pets including cats, dogs and ferrets through bites and scratches. Humans are at risk when bitten or scratched by wild animals, including bats, or infected domestic pets. Rabies infection is invariably fatal unless a protective vaccine is given to exposed individuals before symptoms appear.

Children are a high risk population for potential rabies exposures due to the increased likelihood of interacting with domestic and wild animals.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit investigates over 1,000 reported animal bites every year. Although the number of positive rabid animals remains low within Simcoe Muskoka, all animal bites are possible rabies exposures. Prompt reporting of any animal bites and scratches by schools, provides vital information to the health unit to support our investigations.
• A Message to Parents on Rabies: schools may download and share this fact sheet with parents and caregivers
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