Rabies & Animal Bites: Information for Healthcare Providers

The raccoon strain of rabies has re-emerged in the Ontario wildlife population. Starting in December 2015 and after a ten-year absence, cases of raccoon rabies have been confirmed among wild and stray animals in Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Brant and Perth.

To date, there has been one confirmed local case of rabies in a land animal: a skunk in the Elora area. Two confirmed cases of rabies were found in bats in the City of Guelph; one in 2017 and one in 2018. For the most up-to-date information about cases of rabies in Ontario, please see this surveillance map by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Duty to report

As a healthcare provider, you are required by law to notify Public Health of any animal bites or animal contact that could result in rabies. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to receive reports and respond to suspected rabies exposures. 

Fax completed Animal Exposure Reports (PDF, 1 page, 243 KB) to our Reportable Diseases fax line at 1-855-WDG-LINE (1-855-934-5463). 

For information on how Public Health investigates animal exposure incidents, call to speak with a public health inspector:

  • Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.): 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753
  • Evenings/weekends/holidays: 1-877-884-8653

Post-exposure prophylaxis

Physicians can request rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. In Ontario, it is issued by Public Health.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (for individuals not previously immunized against rabies)

  • For immunocompetent individuals: administration of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period.
  • For immunocompromised persons or those taking antimalarials: an additional fifth dose of vaccine is given and antibody titres should be determined 7 to 14 days after completing the series.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (for individuals previously immunized against rabies)

  • Two doses of rabies vaccine are administered on day 0 and day 3.
  • Immune globulin is NOT administered.

Pre-exposure vaccination

Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is recommended for people who will be:

  • Travelling to areas in countries where rabies is endemic and there is poor access to medical care.
  • Working in a job that may expose them to rabies, such as veterinarians and animal control workers.

People who require vaccine for travel purposes may book an appointment at one of our travel clinics. We do not provide pre-exposure vaccine for those working in high-risk professions.

Additional resources