July 31, 2017: Public Health is advising the community that rigorous efforts are underway to stop rabies in its tracks. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is dropping rabies vaccine bait in targeted areas of the province including Wellington and Dufferin counties.
MNRF baiting efforts aim to reduce rabies in the wildlife population and the serious risk the virus poses to people and their pets. Baiting will occur by hand in urban green spaces until October. In forested and agricultural areas, the bait will be dropped by helicopter or yellow twin otter aircraft until the end of August.
People should not disturb baits unless they are in an area where children play. If you must move a bait for safety reasons, put a plastic bag over your hand to move the bait to a suitable urban green space or wildlife habitat.
When a raccoon (or other mammal) bites into the bait and swallows enough of the vaccine it should develop immunity to rabies in about two weeks.
In the last 18 months, hundreds of raccoons and skunks in Ontario have tested positive for rabies. The virus is found in the saliva of infected mammals and can be spread to other mammals by a bite that breaks the skin, or if the infected animal’s saliva gets into an open wound or mucous membrane. There is no treatment for rabies which is fatal in most instances.
“Stay away from wildlife and do not attempt to feed them,” said Jessica Morris, Manager of Health Protection for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “It’s also important to teach your children never to touch unfamiliar or wild animals. Contact animal control or the police if you see an animal behaving strangely or aggressively.
Public Health is reminding every dog and cat owner to make sure their pet is vaccinated for rabies. If a pet is not vaccinated and comes into contact with a rabid animal, there is also a risk to their pet owner and family. If you are concerned that your pet has been exposed to rabies, contact your veterinarian.
Any person who may have been exposed to rabies should go to their family doctor or a hospital emergency department. For more information about rabies visit www.wdgpublichealth.ca.
Chuck Ferguson, Communications Manager
1-800-265-7293 ext. 4374