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:
Veterinarians practicing outside of Toronto should report animal exposures to their local public health unit.
If there has been no suspected or definite human exposure, and you would like to a report a suspected rabid animal for surveillance testing, please use the following reporting tool:
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.
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.
It is important to keep a documented record (e.g., immunization card) of the dates of administration of pre-exposure prophylaxis, and any documented serology results received thereafter; this documentation will be used to assess your treatment plan if you are subsequently exposed to a mammal.
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:
* 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:
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.