The Porcupine Health Unit is reminding pet and livestock owners that the rules surrounding rabies vaccinations have changed.

Public health inspector Tanya Musgrave says the changes introduced last year make it mandatory for certain animals.

“All dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of three months,” she outlines.  “And when we talk about farm animals such as horses, cattle, sheep and other types of livestock, if they’re coming in direct contact with the general public, they must also be vaccinated.”

Tanya Musgrave says the virus also spreads from animals to humans.

“It does, through the bite or scratch of an animal, so if there’s any break in the skin that could allow the rabies virus to enter.  It’s deadly when that does happen.”

It is, however, treatable, if caught soon enough.

NEW ONTARIO RULES ON RABIES VACCINATIONS

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 3 months in Ontario must be vaccinated regularly against rabies.
  • All horses, cattle, sheep or other livestock intended to come into direct contact with the general public must also be vaccinated. However, if these animals are only accessible to persons responsible for their care and control will remain exempt from the rabies immunization requirement.
  • Rabies vaccinations for your pets need to be updated every 1 to 3 years, depending on the vaccine product given.

RABIES PREVENTION

  • Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination up-to-date.
  • Avoid feeding or handling wild animals.
  • Avoid strays and do not pet unknown animals.
  • Supervise your pets. Don’t let them run free, especially at night.
  • Do not leave your pet’s food outside, as this may attract other unwanted animals.
  • Do not touch domestic or wild animals that look sick or are acting strangely even if you want to help them.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN

  • Wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention. A health care provider will do a risk assessment to determine if rabies vaccine is needed.
  • Contact the Porcupine Health Unit. The health unit will investigate all reports of animal bites and scratches with most animals being quarantined for a 10 day period.
  • In any quarantine situation we remind the public that we don’t take their animals away from them during or after the quarantine period.
  • The PHU will continue to work with pet owners and local vets to protect the public and other animals from the spread of rabies. It is important animal owners work with the health unit to protect the public and other animals from the potential spread of the rabies virus.

Source: Porcupine Health Unit