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What Is Rabies?

Rabies is described as “a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid.” It is a fatal zoonotic disease that poses a serious public health threat. The incubation period can vary from 3 – 12 weeks, but can occasionally be earlier. Rabies is a disease of the brain which ultimately results in death.

What is the risk?
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that since 2014 there have been over 500 confirmed cases of Rabies in animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Hamilton and the surrounding area alone have had over 400 cases.

What are the signs?
Clinical signs of rabies are variable and include inappetence, dysphagia, cranial nerve deficits, abnormal behaviour, ataxia, paralysis, altered vocalization, and seizures. Death usually occurs shortly after signs appear.

How to Prevent:
The risk is significantly reduced when our pets are properly vaccinated. Keep cats indoors and monitor your dog when they are outside. It will help reduce the risk of exposure. Be wary of stray animals in your neighbourhood as you won’t know their vaccine history. If you are taking care of a stray is best to try and get it to a veterinarian to have examined and vaccinated for both their safety and yours. Also, be very aware of wildlife in your area. Never approach them even if they seem very friendly. It is best to be safe and contact your local animal control to have them removed.

Who to call:
In the case that you or your pet had a bite contact with a potentially rabid animal call the City of Hamilton Public Health (905) 456-2489. For people, contact your physician. For your pet, contact your veterinarian.

Written by: Amy Hanchiruk

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