|Reports & Publications - Annual Report 1999
Raccoon Rabies - Frontline Defense
The summer of 1999 saw the advent of raccoon rabies virus into Ontario. The first identified case of mid-Atlantic raccoon virus strain of rabies in Canada was found about 10 kilometres north of the Canada/US border in the Maynard area. Upon confirmation of the strain of rabies, the Health Unit implemented their Raccoon Rabies - Strategic Plan that was developed in 1994; the Ministry of Natural Resources activated their Point Infection Control Plan. Within 24 hours, the Health Unit, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Health, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Animal Health Division, were responding to the first case of raccoon rabies in Canada.
Raccoon rabies is spread mainly by the raccoon’s saliva. The Health Unit is the first agency you contact in all cases of human involvement with rabies or rabid animals. An investigation is conducted within 18 hours to assess animal to human bites.
In 1999, four positive cases of raccoons with the mid-Atlantic strain of the virus were found. After investigating each incident, the Health Unit concluded that there was no significant human exposure.
The Health Unit also plays a major role in the education of the public in regards to rabies, as well as enforcing the mandatory vaccination of all cats and dogs. After the first positive raccoon was identified, the Health Unit issued a press release instructing individuals to contact the Health Unit if they had health issues pertaining to raccoon rabies. This generated 152 calls.
In response to public demand, the Health Unit was able to provide cost reduced rabies vaccination clinics in co-operation with local veterinarians and the Leeds, Grenville M.P.P. This was in addition to the annual clinics held in May. A total of 866 cats and dogs were vaccinated at this time.
The Health Unit will continue to monitor all rabies in our area and remain an active participant in a working group comprised of inter-ministry agencies as long as rabies remains a threat to the public’s health.