HAMILTON, ON, Dec. 10, 2015 /CNW/ - After four dead raccoons tested
positive for rabies this month in Hamilton, Ontario, the virus has been
making headlines across the province.
Many members of the general public have been left with the same
response: I didn't think we had to worry about rabies in Ontario.
"The rabies virus, like other viruses, has a few different strains,"
says Kristina Cooper, RVT. "The recent positive cases of rabies found
in Hamilton is raccoon strain rabies. This is significant as this
particular strain has not been seen in a decade in Ontario and never
seen in Hamilton. Until these cases were confirmed, the positive cases
of rabies in Ontario, in the recent past, have been in bats."
Cooper, who is the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Rabies Response Program (RRP), confirms 11 bats have tested positive for rabies in the province
so far in 2015 through the RRP.
The reason so many people believe that rabies is not something we have
to worry about in Ontario is because of all of the work being done
behind the scenes. Things like bait drops of the rabies vaccine and
owners keeping their pets vaccinated, along with the surveillance work
of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), the Ontario
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and the RRP,
have kept this virus out of the spotlight.
"The RRP receives requests from all of Ontario's 36 Public Health Units
when a human has had an exposure to a potential rabid animal where
rabies can't be ruled out and the animal can't be quarantined," Cooper
explains. "Highly trained Registered Veterinary Technicians, or RVTs,
are dispatched to collect samples from suspect animals and package and
ship them to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for testing."
Ultimately, these four raccoons have led to an important conversation
about the importance of vaccinating your pets against rabies. Ensuring
that your dog, cat or ferret's rabies vaccines are current and up to
date is not only the law across the majority of the province, but it is
the most important thing you can do to protect your pets and the people
who live with you against this fatal disease.
Besides vaccinating your pets, Cooper says the best thing you can do is
be aware of your environment.
"Keep your distance from wildlife," Cooper suggests. "All pets should be
supervised when outside in the yard and should be leashed when going
for walks to prevent an encounter with an infected animal."
If you or someone you know has been bitten or scratched by any animal,
or has had exposure to saliva through an open wound or mucous membrane
(eyes, nose, mouth), you should report it to your local public health
unit for investigation. On the other hand, Cooper says that pet parents
who have an animal who has been exposed to a potentially diseased
animal, and no human contact is involved, should contact their
veterinarian for advice.
For those people who are concerned about wildlife that may be displaying
signs of rabies (aggressive or overly friendly behaviour, difficulty
walking, excess salivation, difficulty breathing, paralysis, seizures
etc.) they should contact their local municipal animal control service
For more information on the OAVT Rabies Response Program: www.oavt.org/rrp
For more information about the Ontario Association of Veterinary
Technicians (OAVT): www.oavt.org
SOURCE Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians
Image with caption: "While four raccoons have tested positive for rabies in Hamilton, Ontario this month, the OAVT Rabies Response Program confirms 11 bats have also tested positive for the virus in the province since January. (CNW Group/Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151210_C9568_PHOTO_EN_44573.jpg
Image with caption: "Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (CNW Group/Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151210_C9568_PHOTO_EN_44572.jpg
For further information:
Natalie Thomas, Communications Manager, OAVT, Natalie@oavt.org, 519-836-4910 ext. 222