Rabies: Know the Facts

Animal Contact and Rabies Exposure Information and Guidelines for Durham Region

Rabies is frequently present in our wildlife population and the possibility of a domestic animal becoming infected cannot be overlooked. Because of this the Durham Region Health Department carries out an investigation whenever a human is bitten or scratched by an animal. This pamphlet is intended to guide and assist victims of animal bites and persons who believe they may have been exposed to rabies, in their response to such occurrences. This will not only assist Public Health Inspectors in their investigations, but may also help reduce post-exposure anti-rabies treatments.Animals

Facts about Rabies

Each year, approximately 100 Durham Region residents receive anti-rabies treatment because of contact with a wild animal or with a stray dog or cat. Public Health inspectors in Durham Region investigate about 1,100 incidents of potential rabies transmission from animals to humans each year.

Over the past decade in Ontario there has been an average of 120 rabid animals identified annually. In Durham Region, an average of 5-10 rabies positive animals are identified yearly. In most cases the rabies positive animals involved were bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons.

In Ontario alone, the incidence of rabies results in costs, on average, in excess of $25 million a year. This includes the cost of diagnosis, pet vaccination, compensation to farmers for loss of livestock, research, and treatment of humans that have been exposed to rabid animals.

Rabies is spread by wild and domestic animals, such as: foxes, raccoons, skunks, bats, dogs and cats. It can occur in both agricultural areas (livestock), and urban centres throughout Ontario.

There are significant populations of foxes and raccoons in urban, as well as, rural areas which increases the potential for human to animal contact.

Several strains of rabies attributed to bats, are also common in Ontario. Recent human deaths from rabies in Canada have been linked to bat exposure.

 Rabies is Contagious and Fatal

Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the brain. The rabies virus can be present in the saliva of infected animals and it is generally transmitted via an animal bite or scratch that breaks the skin. It can also enter the body through skin abrasions or through the mucous membranes surrounding the mouth, nose and eyes. After close contact with a rabid animal, any warm-blooded animal, including man, can be capable of contracting and transmitting the disease.

The incubation period from the time an animal contracts rabies to the first appearance of symptoms can be as short as two weeks or longer than six months. Once symptoms appear, the disease is fatal.

Behaviour of Rabid Animals

The virus is present in the saliva of an infected animal before the symptoms of the disease start. That is why it may be difficult to tell if an animal has rabies simply by looking at it.

The virus must have time to travel through the nerves and then to the brain before a change can be seen in the behaviour of the animal.

A rabid animal may exhibit any combination of the following behaviours:

Physical symptoms may include weight loss, lack of coordination, paralysis, drooling and inevitably, death.

If Bitten or Scratched by any Animal

To Report Human Contact with an Animal

For Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, and Clarington

Durham Region Health Department
Environmental Health Division
101 Consumers Drive, 2nd Floor
Whitby, ON L1N 1C4
or 1-888-777-9613
Fax 905-666-1887

For Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock

Durham Region Health Department - Port Perry Office
Environmental Health Division
181 Perry Street, Suite 200
Port Perry, ON L9L 1B8
905-985-4891 or 1-866-845-1868

To Report Lost, Injured, Wild or Stray Animals in:

Clarington, including Courtice, contact:

Clarington Animal Services
33 Lake Road
Bowmanville, ON L1C 3A6
905 623-7651

Oshawa, East Whitby, and Columbus, contact:

City of Oshawa Animal Services
919 Farewell Street South
Oshawa, ON L1H 6N8

Pickering contact:

Pickering Animal Services
15 Reesor Rd.
Toronto, ON M1X 1R5

Ajax contact:

Town of Ajax Municipal Office
Animal Services Department
65 Harwood Ave. South
Ajax, ON L1S 2H9

Whitby contact:

Whitby Animal Services Centre
4680 Thickson Road North
Whitby, ON L1N 5R3
905-655-0283 or 1-866-788-PETS (7387)

Townships of Uxbridge and Scugog, contact:

Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre
1360 Reach Street
Port Perry, ON L9L 1B2
905-985-9547 or 1-800-871-4374

Brock Township, contact:

Township Office
1 Cameron Street E., P.O. Box 10
Cannington, ON L0E 1E0
1-705-432-2355 or 1-866-223-7668