06 June 2016

HEALTH - Ontario Rabies Numbers Continue to Grow

Ontario announced its first raccoon strain rabies cases in December 2015 and since then the number continues to grow.

Prior to this outbreak, the province hadn’t seen this type of rabies since 2005.

The latest update from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry states there have been a total of 121 cases of raccoon strain rabies and 2 cases of fox strain rabies cases since December 2015.

In the past week they reported five new cases - four from Hamilton (two raccoons and two skunks) and one case from Brantford in a raccoon.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.

Pets can be protected from the virus through vaccination - which is legally required in Ontario.

Pet owners can also protect their animals by maintaining control of them to reduce their exposure to wildlife. It’s also important to report any stray or ill animals to animal control.

Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 55,000 people, mostly in Africa and Asia, die from rabies every year.

In 2006 a group of researchers and professionals formed the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) whose mission is to prevent human deaths from rabies and relieve the burden of rabies in other animal populations, especially dogs.

World Rabies Day was founded by GARC and has grown every year, with hundreds of thousands of people participating in events on or around September 28th.

GARC uses a holistic model for rabies prevention that has proven to work and includes people, education, vaccination, access to treatment and monitoring results.

Their projects in Africa, the Philippines, India and elsewhere take them closer to their vision of a world free of human rabies.

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