Under Regulation 557 – Communicable Diseases, made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, veterinarians have a legal obligation to report animal (mammal) exposures, including bites and scratches, which are conducive to the transmission of rabies to a person.

Veterinarians practicing in Toronto must report animal exposures to Toronto Public Health as follows:

  • During business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.):
  • After business hours:
    • Fax the Animal Exposure Report to 416-696-4297 or
    • Call 3-1-1 only if you need to speak to staff after hours

Veterinarians practicing outside of Toronto should report animal exposures to their local public health unit.

It is important for veterinarians to inquire about biting incidents or other human exposures that occurred within the 10 days (or 14 days in the case of livestock and/or exotic animals) preceding a planned rabies vaccination or euthanasia. This is because animals involved in exposure incidents may be under a legal Order prohibiting the animal owner from vaccinating/revaccinating or euthanizing the animal. If an exposure has not been reported to Toronto Public Health, veterinarians must report the exposure, refrain from vaccinating / euthanizing the animal, and follow the directions from a Public Health Inspector.

  • Inquiring about exposures prior to rabies vaccination is necessary to ensure the animal does not experience adverse reactions from the vaccine while under confinement or prior to confinement. Adverse reactions to the vaccine may be confused with the development of signs and symptoms of rabies in the animal.
  • Inquiring about exposures prior euthanasia is necessary for Toronto Public Health to rule out that a person was exposed to rabies and avoid potentially unnecessary medical treatment. If there has been a human exposure and euthanasia is deemed appropriate, contact Toronto Public Health to notify of pending euthanasia and discuss next steps. Toronto Public Health prefers to keep animals alive for the confinement period unless there is a clear and significant animal welfare concern, as noted by the attending Veterinarian.

Veterinarians and veterinarian technicians have an increased risk for rabies transmission due to their close contact with animals. Rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis, a preventative treatment which consists of a series of vaccinations, can help protect you before being exposed to rabies from a bite or scratch from an animal.

Consult your healthcare provider or contact a travel medicine clinic to inquire about rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis.

There are also important steps to take if you are bitten or scratched by an animal.

Under Regulation 567 – Rabies Immunization, made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, rabies vaccination certificates must contain the following information:

  1. Name and address of the animal owner/custodian
  2. Animal species, breed, colour, sex, age and name*
  3. Any markings on the animal
  4. Microchip number, tattoo number, or, where applicable, other permanent means of identifying the animal*
  5. Animal size (approximate)*
  6. Clinic (or location) information where the animal was immunized
  7. Full name and contact information of the veterinarian*
  8. Vaccine name and serial number
  9. Reimmunization interval per the vaccine monograph*
  10. Immunization date
  11. A statement of whether the immunization is a primary or a booster immunization*
  12. Reimmunization date
  13. Rabies tag identification number issued with respect to a cat, dog or ferret

* These are new requirements under Regulation 567, effective July 1st, 2018.

As of July 1st, 2018, statement of exemptions for rabies vaccinations can be provided to animal owners if an animal has a medical condition preventing rabies vaccination. Statements of exemption must contain the following information:

  1. Name and address of the animal owner/custodian
  2. Animal species, breed, colour, sex, age and name
  3. Any markings on the animal
  4. Microchip number, tattoo number, or, where applicable, other permanent means of identifying the animal
  5. Animal size (approximate)
  6. Date of each previous rabies immunization and any relevant adverse effects related to the immunization documented in the medical record of the animal
  7. Medical condition precluding the safe immunization or reimmunization of the animal
  8. Exemption duration
  9. Full name and contact information of the veterinarian
  10. Statement of exemption date

Under Regulation 567 – Rabies Immunization, made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, veterinarians must keep a duplicate copy of the rabies vaccination certificate or statement of exemption, as the case may be, issued to animal owners. Rabies titres cannot be used as proof of an animal’s vaccination status.

The following resources may be useful for veterinarians with respect to potential rabies exposures.