Rabies Kills 50-60,000 People Around the World Every Year - Veterinarians Warn: Vaccinate Your Pets, Educate Your Whole Family



    MILTON, ON, Sept. 6 /CNW/ - According to the Alliance for Rabies Control
(a charity based in the United Kingdom), rabies kills between 50,000 - 60,000
people globally each year. As a preventable disease, these numbers are
unacceptable.
    The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) is reminding everyone
about the dangers of rabies and the importance of vaccinating pets against
this deadly disease.
    "In March of this year, a man tested positive for rabies when he was
bitten by a bat who slipped into his home while he slept," says Dr. Tim
Zaharchuk, a veterinarian from Brampton, Ontario and a former president of
OVMA. "Rabies is completely preventable, so any case of rabies in a developed
country like Canada is unacceptable."
    "If your pet has never been vaccinated against rabies, see your regular
veterinarian immediately," continues Dr. Zaharchuk. If your pet has been
vaccinated in the past, but you are not sure that the vaccination is still
effective, call your veterinary clinic to find out if your pet is due for its
next rabies vaccination."
    Despite the great strides made in eradicating the disease in Ontario,
rabies is still a health concern in this province. According to the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency, in Ontario, the first quarter of 2007 saw 17 confirmed
cases of rabies in animals, most of which occurred in south-western Ontario.
The cases included nine skunks, two bats, one dog, four cattle and one horse.
By August the numbers jumped to 72 (63 cases of rabies in wildlife, 9 cases in
domesticated animals.) In 2006, 82 cases of rabies were confirmed in animals
in Ontario.

    What is Rabies?

    Rabies is a contagious and fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks
the brain and spinal cord. It is transmitted in the saliva of an infected
animal, usually through a bite or scratch.

    Saturday, September 8 is World Rabies Day

    Animal and human health agencies and veterinary organizations around the
world will hold events on September 8th to raise awareness about rabies and
rabies prevention. In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) today
held a Rabies Symposium in Nepean. The goal is to raise awareness among
Canadians with a panel of keynote speakers from the community of researchers,
veterinarians, wildlife biologists and public health officials.

    
    Protecting Your Family and Your Pet

    -   Have your pets vaccinated. It's the only way to keep them safe and
        prevent them from passing rabies onto humans.
    -   Avoid stray animals and animals you don't know to be vaccinated, no
        matter how cute or friendly they appear.
    -   If you or a family member is exposed to rabies, get medical help
        immediately.
    

    For further information:

    World Rabies Day: www.worldrabiesday.org
    2007 Ontario Rabies Research, Control & Eradication Program: 
http://www.ovma.org/extra/07rabies_research.html
    Rabies, Rabies in Canada:
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/rabrag/rabrage.shtml

    Founded in 1980, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association represents
more than 3,300 Ontario veterinarians in private practice, government,
academia, industry and public service. Its mandate is to advance and promote
excellence in the veterinary profession in Ontario, and contribute to the
betterment of animal health and the protection of human health.





For further information:

For further information: Nadia Vercillo, OVMA Manager of Communications
& Public Relations, c. (416) 838-3925 or 1-800-670-1702, ext. 15, or
nvercillo@ovma.org

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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

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