Preventing Animal Bites
What is Rabies?
- Rabies is an infectious and contagious disease of the central nervous system.
- It is caused by a virus that is carried in the saliva of infected warm-blooded mammals.
- In North America, raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks are significant wildlife
species that spread the disease.
How is Rabies Transmitted?
- The rabies virus is concentrated in the saliva, mucus membranes and central nervous tissue of a rabid animal.
- Humans can contract rabies by being exposed to the saliva of an infected animal. Usually, the person is bitten or scratched allowing the virus to enter the broken skin.
- The virus then moves into the nervous system. It may also enter through an open cut or mucus membrane (eyes, nose, and mouth).
- Prevent exposure to the disease by staying away from all unknown animals, both wild and domestic.
- Vaccinate your cats and dogs against rabies. It is the law in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark.
- Never touch a sick, injured, trapped or dead animal.
- If you must remove a dead animal wear protective gloves and wash all contaminated surfaces with soap and water.
- Do not let your pets (dogs and cats) run at large.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Immediately wash the wound with soap and water to remove as much of the animal's saliva as possible.
- Avoid splashing wash-water into your eyes, nose or mouth as the virus can enter your body through these mucus membranes.
- Be sure to get the name and address of the animal owner and a description of the animal.
- Contact you doctor or visit the emergency department of your local hospital.
- All animal bites must be reported to the Health Unit in accordance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act of Ontario.
Animal Exposure Reporting Form
The Health Unit will confine domestic animals involved in a biting incident for a period of 10 days to determine if the animal had rabies at the time of the biting or scratching incident. If the animal is healthy at the end of the confinement, post exposure rabies vaccine does not need to be administered.
Animals involved in a biting incident may not be euthanized until the 10 day confinement period has been completed and the animal is released by a Public Health Inspector.
- All people who are knowingly exposed to rabies must be treated immediately.
- Post Exposure Treatment is available through the Health Unit. An assessment of an individuals exposure must be made by a physician and the vaccine is then ordered through the Health Unit.
- Post Exposure Treatment includes the administration of Rabies Immune Globulin and Rabies Vaccine. Immune Globulin is given immediately after the biting incident along with the first dose of rabies vaccine. The remaining four doses of rabies vaccine is given over the course of one month.
- Rabies vaccine is safe for pregnant women and children.
Does the Rabies Vaccine Protect you against Rabies?
Yes. The vaccine is an effective treatment against rabies.
Adverse Vaccine Reactions
Call your doctor if any of these symptoms happen within three weeks after being vaccinated.
- High Fever
- Any other serious health problem
- Pre-exposure vaccine is available and recommended for those who participate in high-risk activities that could expose them to the rabies virus.
- The vaccine is not available through the Health Unit but with a doctor’s prescription it can be purchased through your pharmacy.
- Trappers, veterinarians, animal control officers, and all those who work with wildlife or livestock populations should be immunized with pre-exposure vaccine.