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News Release

Health Department promotes education and rabies vaccination during Rabies Awareness Week, May 5 to 9

WHITBY, ON April 30, 2015

Rabies Awareness Week is May 4 to 8 and Durham Region Health Department is encouraging area elementary school teachers to present a 15-minute lesson on rabies to their students. The Health Department offers grade specific lesson plans on rabies prevention and control, and schools can also request a presentation or display from the Health Department to occur at the school.

In 1984, southern Ontario had the reputation of being the rabies capital of North America. More cases of rabies occurred here than anywhere else on the continent. In response to this situation, Ontario developed a rabies baiting program; this is a program where baits laced with rabies vaccine are either aerial dropped or hand tossed into green areas to then be consumed by wildlife.

Despite the success with the vaccine baiting program, rabies in bats still remains a significant problem in Ontario. Studies have shown that approximately one per cent of any bat colony includes bats with rabies. Anyone who has had rabies exposure which could include a bite or scratch, or contact with the saliva of an infected animal, or has information on potential rabies exposure, should immediately report the incident to the Health Department at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.  The Health Department investigates over 1,000 animal bite reports each year in the Region, which results in an average of 100 individuals receiving post-exposure anti-rabies treatment.

Another key component of rabies prevention and control is responsible pet ownership, including rabies vaccination of your dog or cat. On May 3, from noon to 4 p.m., a low-cost rabies vaccination and microchip clinic will be held at PJs Pet Centre, Pickering Town Centre, 1355 Kingston Rd. The cost for the vaccination is $20 and the cost of the microchip is $20 per animal; cash payment only will be accepted. Pet owners are asked to bring all cats in a carrier and dogs on a leash.

In addition to rabies awareness education, the Health Department also recommends taking the following steps to avoid exposure to rabies:

  • Avoid all wild animals, including bats.
  • Avoid dead or sick animals.
  • Children should report sick animals to their parents.
  • Children should report animal bites or scratches to their parents/guardian who should contact the Health Department.
  • Vaccinate your dog or cat against rabies.

For more information on rabies, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:

Glendene Collins – Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

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For more information, please contact Health Department.