Signs and symptoms of rabies in animals can include:

  • Dumb rabies: lethargy (inactive or under-active), self-isolation, paralysis in the hind limbs that spreads to the rest of the body, excessive drooling (frothing), drooping head, sagging jaw.
  • Furious rabies: extreme excitement, aggression, gnawing at its own limbs or body, attacking objects or other animals for no obvious reason.
  • Rabies in bats: Rabid bats commonly lose their ability to fly or fly well. Other signs that bats may be rabid include: wandering around in the daylight; crawling on the ground; or otherwise acting strangely.

The number of wildlife rabies cases in Ontario has decreased by more than 99 per cent since provincial and local rabies control programs began.

  • Ontario was declared to be free of raccoon rabies strain in 2005. However, in 2015/16, several raccoons and skunks in Hamilton, Haldimand County and Niagara were confirmed to been infected with rabies.
  • The last case of fox variant rabies reported in the province was in 2018.
  • The most recent terrestrial wildlife with rabies in Toronto was in 1997. In 2008, a puppy with rabies was imported from rural Ontario to Toronto.
  • Although the prevalence of rabies in wild bats is generally unknown, available information suggests the prevalence of rabies positive bats in Ontario is between 2% and 3%.

The risk of rabies varies globally. In countries where rabies deaths occur in humans (especially Asia and Africa), more than 99 per cent of cases are caused by bites from dogs.

Your risk of being exposed to rabies while travelling to another country depends on several factors such as: your destination, the length of your trip, where you stay, your activities and your access to medical care. Treatment to prevent rabies is available worldwide, but it is often difficult to obtain.

If you are planning to travel:

There are a number of agencies that can provide further assistance with animals:

Toronto Animal Services

Contact Toronto Animal Services (416-338-PAWS) regarding stray or domestic animals:

  1. If there has been a bite or scratch to a person or other animals OR
  2. If there has not been a bite or scratch to a person or other animals, but the animal is a nuisance or requires assistance.

If a wild animal is not exhibiting signs of rabies, if possible allow it to leave the area on its own. Remove anything which may be attracting wildlife to your property, such as garbage, and block off possible denning areas such as under steps, porches, etc

Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF)


Wildlife

Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (1-888-574-6656) for general information on rabies and rabies control in wildlife.  If you see an animal that is showing signs of rabies, this can be reported to the NDMNRF through their rabies information line (188-574-6656) but NDMNRF does NOT assist with the capture and control of such animals. If the animal is in distress or causing damage to your property, call 311 or Toronto Animal Services for assistance.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 if a bite or scratch occurs between a suspect animal and livestock or a suspect animal and any other domestic animal (e.g. pet), contact your local veterinarian for an initial risk assessment.  If there is significant risk, or additional assistance is required, your veterinarian can contact OMAFRA for advice.

The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians

The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) Rabies Response Program (RRP) works towards educating the public about rabies and the importance of prevention through their “Rabies-My Pet’s Protected Campaign.” To learn more about rabies and how it can affect your family, or to find a rabies vaccine clinic near you visit www.mypetsprotected.org 

The OAVT RRP also works directly with all of Ontario’s 36 Public Health Units to arrange and complete the collection and shipment of rabies specimens who have had human contact. Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) are trained and contracted to perform this task.