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News Release

Ontario reports case of raccoon rabies

WHITBY, ON December 10, 2015 - On Dec. 4, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) was notified that a raccoon captured in the City of Hamilton area had tested positive for rabies. The rabies virus was confirmed to be the raccoon rabies strain that is circulating in North America and highly prevalent in New York State. As a result, the MOHLTC has requested that all public health units in southern Ontario that border New York State, as well as those sharing a border with the City of Hamilton, ensure that their Raccoon Rabies Contingency Plans (RRCPs) are up-to-date. Durham Region Health Department has an RRCP that is currently being reviewed and updated.

“This is Ontario’s first raccoon rabies case since 2005; previously, the only outbreak of raccoon rabies in Ontario occurred in eastern Ontario in 1999,” said Ross MacEachern, Manager, Environmental Health with the Health Department. From 1999 to 2005, Ontario conducted a very aggressive rabies vaccine wildlife bating program which resulted in the elimination of the raccoon rabies strain from the province.

Mr. MacEachern added that although the raccoon rabies strain has not been identified in Durham Region, it is very important that the public is made aware of and follows the appropriate rabies prevention and control measures which include:

  • Keeping your dogs’ and cats’ rabies vaccinations current.
  • Not allowing pet dogs and cats to roam off-leash or unsupervised.
  • Avoiding all contact with wild animals, including preventing contact between pets and wildlife.
  • Reporting wild animals exhibiting abnormal behavior, particularly raccoons, to either local animal control services, or directly to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Rabies Hotline at 1-888-574-6656.
  • Reporting all animal bites or other contacts that may result in transmission of rabies to humans to Durham Region Health Department at 1-888-777-9613.

Additional information on rabies can be found at durham.ca/rabies or by calling the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 1-888-777-9613.

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Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:

Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999 or glendene.collins@durham.ca

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

For more information, please contact Health Department.