Rabies has been in the news for sometime now, because of raccoons and skunks found in close proximity to people in town and cities in Southern Ontario. Recently the outbreak has taken a big turn for the worse: a man in Caledonia was bitten by a rabid stray cat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tested the cat for the potentially fatal disease and confirmed it’s findings with authorities. This is the first report of a domestic animal having the disease and the first incident of involving a human. The man has been receiving treatment and the local health unit is trying to determine if anyone else was exposed.
Local health units are very concerned that feral cats may become vectors. They live in large numbers in cities and in rural areas and could become infected by contact with raccoons and skunks.
It is very important that you take the following steps to protect yourself and your pets:
–Keep pets’ rabies vaccinations up to date. This is mandatory under the law in Brant, Haldimand, Simcoe and Niagara Counties. This is, without a doubt, the most important thing you can do to protect your pet from this disease.
–Stay away from and do not touch unfamiliar animals. Avoid all animals that are acting strangely.
–Stay away from wild animals and do not feed them.
–Prevent pets from coming in contact with wild animals.
–Carefully supervise children around animals.
–Do not let pets roam freely through the neighbourhood or in the countryside.
Anyone encountering wild animals behaving strangely can contact police or the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry’s Rabies Information Line at 1-888-574-6656.
Anyone bitten or scratched by a wild animal should contact the Brant County Health Unit at 1-519-753-4937, in Norfolk at 1-519-426-6170 or in Haldimand at 1-905-318-6623.
If you suspect your pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, consult your veterinarian immediately.