The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has launched a larger annual rabies vaccination bait drop program across southwestern Ontario to combat this year’s increase in the number of cases. Throughout the summer and fall, rabies vaccine baiting took place in the Stratford area and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Baits were dropped by helicopter in Brantford, Hamilton and Burlington in mid-August. In late August, they were dropped by Twin Otter plane in the Golden Horseshoe Area. And throughout summer and early fall, the baits were distributed by hand within a designated raccoon rabies control zone.”We do this at the same time every year, but we expanded it this year because of the number of cases,” ministry spokeswoman Emily Kirk said in an interview. “We are doing more drops and we have expanded the area. Before we were doing drops in border areas, but because of where the cases are, we have increased the area. “New cases of raccoon rabies have been confirmed in the wider Hamilton area. They are the first cases in Ontario since 2005. The total count of the rabies strain stands at 157 as of October, Kirk said. Two rabid raccoons were found in Cayuga recently, bringing to seven the total found in Haldimand County since the outbreak began last December. Three of the raccoons were found in the Cayuga area, two in the Caledonia area and one each in the Hagersville and York areas. The veterinarians in Markham remind you that rabies is a virus that can spread from an infected mammal to any other mammal, including humans, pets, livestock and wildlife. The virus is found in the saliva of an infected mammal and can be spread by bites that break the skin, getting saliva from an infected animals in an open cut, sore or other wound, or getting saliva from an infected animal in the mouth, nose or eyes. Under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act, Regulation 567, pet owners are legally required to keep dogs and cats over three months old vaccinated for rabies in 31 of the 36 Public Health Units in the province (i.e. all but the 5 northern-most units). Vaccination not only protects your pet from infection with rabies, but also helps protect you and your family if your pet is exposed to the virus by contact with a wild animal. If you are unsure whether or not your pet’s vaccines are up to date contact your veterinarian in Markham to make an appointment.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s website, the most common carriers of rabies are:
Bats – 13 rabid bats were reported in Ontario, including one in Brant, in 2015. There is no efficient way to vaccinate bats;
Foxes – The last rabid fox case reported in Ontario was in 2012;
Raccoons – Positive cases of raccoons are ongoing in southwestern Ontario;
Skunks – 48 rabid skunks have been reported in Ontario this year;
Other species with positive rabies tests include: beaver, black bears, elk, field mouse, fisher, groundhog, hare, mink, muskrat, otter, rabbit, weasel, white-tailed deer and wild boar. The ministry, which is responsible for wildlife rabies research and management programs in Ontario, said that its bait drop program is one of the most successful rabies control programs in North America. The bait is a small rectangular packet a little larger than the size of a loonie, filled with the rabies vaccine that is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. Flavoured with vanilla, baits immunize most skunks, foxes and raccoons that eat them. The baits are khaki green with a toll-free rabies information line number stamped on them – 1-888-574-6656.Animals are immunized against rabies about two weeks after they either chew or swallow the bait. The ministry asks people not to disturb baits if they see them.If you find a bait packet in an area where it shouldn’t be – such as your backyard – don’t open it, the ministry warns. Place a plastic bag over your hand to keep your scent off the bait, then move it to an area, such as a bush, where wildlife may find it.If livestock or a pet eats one bait packet, they may get an upset stomach but there’s no need to worry, the ministry says. But if they eat more than one, call your veterinarian in Markham.If you found this blog informative, please share it with your friends on Facebook.
Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham
Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.