Rabies in Animals
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.
The number of wildlife rabies cases in Ontario has decreased by more than 99% 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 rabid skunk reported in Ontario was in 2016 near Stratford.
- The last rabid fox reported in the province was in 2009.
- The last rabid terrestrial (land-based) mammal reported from Toronto was in 1997.
- Rabid bats are still found in Ontario, including the Greater Toronto Area.
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:
- Refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Travel Health website to determine whether rabies is a concern for your destination.
- Contact a travel medicine clinic for discuss whether you need rabies vaccination before you go.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, follow these steps:
- If possible, collect animal owner information (name, address, and phone number).
- Immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
- Apply an antiseptic to the wound.
- Seek medical attention from a physician to assess your risk and discuss treatment options.
Provide your name, address and phone number to the person who was bitten. This may help them to avoid potentially unnecessary medical treatment. This also helps Toronto Public Health in communicating with and providing assistance when needed.
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:
- If there has been a bite or scratch to a person or other animals OR
- If there has not been a bite or scratch to a person or other animals, but the animal is a nuisance or requires assistance.
Ministry of Natural Resources
Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (1-888-574-6656) If there has not been a bite or scratch to a person or other animals and:
- The animal is not exhibiting signs of rabies, allow it to leave the area. Remove anything which may be attracting it, such as garbage, and block off possible denning areas (under steps, porches, etc.).
- The animal is showing signs of rabies, immediately contact the Ministry of Natural Resources. If assistance is needed, call 311 or Toronto Animal Services.
Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources (1-888-574-6656) for advice on control options if a wild animal is simply a nuisance or causing damage to your property.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs
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 a domestic animal.
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.