September is Rabies Awareness Month and September 28th is World Rabies day. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide some information regarding this fatal disease.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of domestic and wild mammals as well as humans. It is spread most commonly via the saliva of an infected animal coming in contact with the mucosa or the flesh with skin wounds of another mammal.
Mammals in our area which may be infected and thereby transmit rabies to our pets or ourselves include raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs and cats. The virus affects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
There have been several cases of rabies positive raccoons and foxes in the Hamilton-Wentworth area this past year. The government has a baiting program to vaccinate wildlife. It is just as important for us to vaccinate our pets to protect them as well as ourselves. We recommend all dogs and cats get vaccinated. In our area it is required by law that your pet be vaccinated for rabies as soon as it is 4 months old and must be kept up-to-date for its entire life.
After your pet is vaccinated the first time, it must get a booster shot within 1 year of the date they were vaccinated. After that, your pet must be vaccinated for rabies every 3 years as per Alcona Animal Hospital's vaccine protocol. Rabies vaccines used in Canada protect pets from all strains of rabies in North America.
If you believe you have been exposed to a rabid animal, please contact the Simcoe County District Health Unit at 705-721-75220. If you believe your animal has been exposed, please consult your veterinarian.