Since December 2015, there have been 16 animals with rabies in Niagara, and a total of 296 in Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and the surrounding area. Most recently, a raccoon in Port Colborne has tested positive for rabies.
In response to the situation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, along with SPCAs and Humane Societies, are continuing to conduct increased surveillance activities for animals suspected with rabies noting that the warm weather increases their activity so it is possible more animals with rabies will be identified in Niagara in the coming weeks.
Rabies is a life-threatening condition that causes tens of thousands of deaths worldwide every year. Dogs are the most common source.
It’s caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. The virus is transmitted to humans via bites and scratches from infected animals.
Rabies can be treated with the rabies vaccine if you seek medical attention as soon as you think you might have symptoms. To help prevent it, make sure that you and your pets are vaccinated.
How Do I know an Animal Has Rabies?
An animal with rabies may or may not display symptoms, and so all animal bites or scratches, however mild, must be assessed by a health professional as soon as possible to ensure the person bitten/scratched is not at risk.
Initially, a dog who’s become infected may show extreme behavioral changes such as restlessness or apprehension, both of which may be compounded by aggression. Friendly dogs may become irritable, while normally excitable animals may become more docile. A dog may bite or snap at any form of stimulus, attacking other animals, humans and even inanimate objects. They may constantly lick, bite and chew at the site where they were bitten. A fever may also be present at this stage.
Symptoms if Bitten By Infected Animal
The first symptoms can appear from a few days to more than a year after the bite occurs. One of the most distinctive signs of a rabies infection is a tingling or twitching sensation around the area of the animal bite. It is often accompanied by a fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue.
What Should I Do?
Immediately report all animal bites and scratches of humans to Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248, ext. 7269 or toll free 1-888-505-6074.
Niagara Region Public Health is available to take calls about animal bites 24/7.
•Ensure pet dogs and cats have current rabies vaccinations (typically needed annually by law)
•Prevent pet dogs and cats from roaming off-leash or unsupervised
•Avoid all contact with wild animals and prevent contact between pets and wildlife
•Report wild animals exhibiting abnormal behaviour (particularly raccoons) to either local animal control services
Important Phone Numbers
MNRF Rabies Hotline: 1-888-574-6656
Welland/Port Colborne SPCA: 905-735-1552
Lincoln County Humane Society: 905-688-7722
Niagara Falls Humane Society: 905-356-4404
Fort Erie Humane Society: 905-871-2461
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