Since December 2015, rabies has been frequently making the headlines. In fact, so far this year alone, there have been more than 150 confirmed rabies cases in Ontario. To put this into perspective, 2 years ago there were only 18 confirmed cases all year in Ontario! And while this rabies has mainly been in wildlife, in August, a stray cat that bit a Hamilton man was confirmed to be positive for rabies!
Over 150 confirmed cases in Ontario so far this year
The risk of rabies is real and it is scary. Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through contact with saliva of an infected animal – this can be through a bite, scratch, open wound or direct saliva contact in the mouth, nose or eyes.
Rabies is responsible for 59,000 human lives yearly, worldwide
Rabies is almost always fatal – even in humans! In fact, so far there is believed to be only one case where a human survived rabies without receiving preventative vaccines. Rabies causes about 59,000 deaths each year, mainly in developing countries. Here in Canada, we are very fortunate to have access to vaccinations to help reduce the risk of this deadly disease. In fact, pet owners are legally required to ensure all pets over three months of age are vaccinated against rabies and these vaccinations are to be kept up to date.
“I only have indoor cats”
“But my cat never leaves the house”. Even bats can transmit rabies. Just recently, a bat tested positive for rabies after biting a man in Woodstock. Bats can enter homes and apartments through small cracks and can infect animals in their own house. As well, an open window or door can allow an indoor cat to sneak outdoors and be at risk.
Please protect yourself and your pets! Keep pets a safe distance away from wild animals as well as stray animals, and ensure their vaccinations are up to date. Anyone bitten, scratched or had contact with the saliva of an animal should immediately wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.
Rabies is a preventable disease and vaccination protects not only your pets from infection, but also protects you and your family!