Ontarians Urged To Take Steps To Prevent Rabies On World Rabies Day
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, is urging people to take measures to prevent rabies on the fourth annual World Rabies Day.
Started in 2007 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a UK charity, World Rabies Day aims to bring together partners in an effort to address and highlight rabies prevention and control efforts.
Rabies is a fatal neurological disease which can be prevented through education, pet vaccination, and increased awareness about proper wound management and administration of rabies vaccination after an exposure has occurred.
Ontario has made great progress in rabies prevention and control in its wildlife populations, due to the Ministry of Natural Resources' oral rabies vaccine baiting programs for wildlife, which began in the 1990s.
However, the threat of rabies in the province is not gone, and prevention and control efforts must be continued. In January 2008, the diagnosis of rabies in a puppy in Ontario resulted in the need for vaccination of more than 300 human contacts.
Maintaining a high rate of vaccination in domestic animal populations is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of human rabies.
Dr. King encourages Ontarians to:
- ensure that all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations
- wash any animal bite wounds immediately and thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes and seek medical attention, even if the wound seems minor
- report all animal biting incidents to their local public health unit.
- Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal and is nearly always fatal without proper post exposure treatment.
- Each year, Ontario's health units investigate thousands of animal bite incidents to assess the risk of rabies exposure for each victim.
- On average, 1,500-2,000 Ontario residents every year receive human post-exposure vaccinations to ensure that they do not develop rabies.
“Ontario has made great strides in reducing the number of animal rabies cases over the past 25 years, but we cannot let our guard down because the disease is still present in Ontario. In most cases, preventing rabies is as simple as ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, avoiding contact with wild animals, especially bats, and educating the public.”
Dr. Arlene King