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News Release

Health Department promotes education and rabies vaccination during Rabies Awareness Month

WHITBY, ON April 25, 2016 - May is Rabies Awareness Month 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.

Throughout the month, the Health Department will have a rabies information display posted at Region of Durham Headquarters, 605 Rossland Rd. E., Whitby from May 24 to 27. The Health Department will also provide information to veterinarian clinics across Durham Region reminding clinic staff to report all known animal bites to the Health Department.

Recently, a number of confirmed rabies cases have been reported in Hamilton. “With the increase in the number of confirmed rabies cases throughout Ontario, local residents are reminded to avoid wild animals, in particular raccoons and skunks, as they’ve been known to be infected with rabies,” said Nella Correia, a senior public health inspector with the Health Department. “We’re also encouraging pet owners to have their pets vaccinated against rabies.”

In 1984, southern Ontario had the reputation of being the rabies capital of North America, with more cases of rabies occurring here than anywhere else on the continent. In response to this situation, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) 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. MNRF is actively continuing this program. For information about the rabies baiting program, please call the Ministry’s rabies hotline 1-888-574-6656.

Even with the success of 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 1, 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 $25 per animal and the cost of the microchip is also $25 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 or if you’re interested in hosting a rabies display, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613. Information can also be obtained by visiting durham.ca/rabies.

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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.