SIMCOE, ONTARIO February 7th , 2017 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) was notified by Hamilton Public Health Services of another stray cat that has tested positive for rabies. Similar to the incident last August, the cat was found in an area of Hamilton very close to Caledonia in Haldimand County. Further investigation is now underway to determine if any other individuals were exposed to the rabid animal.

Since the December 2015 start of this most recent outbreak, 187 raccoons and 85 skunks have tested positive for the raccoon strain of rabies. However, this is only the second stray cat in the area to test positive. “It is an unfortunate reminder that rabies can be easily transmitted to our feline friends and we are encouraging pet owners to make sure their animal’s rabies vaccination status is up to date,” said Dr. Malcolm Lock, Acting Medical Officer of Health for the HNHU.

In addition to having pets up to date on rabies vaccinations, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is also encouraging the public to take the following preventative measures to further reduce the risk and limit the spread of rabies in the community:

  • Stay away from unfamiliar animals, or any animal acting strangely.
  • Stay away from wild animals and do not feed them.
  • Supervise children when they are around animals.
  • Prevent pets from coming into contact with wildlife.
  • Do not let pets roam free.
  • Feed pets indoors. Feeding pets outdoors can attract other unwanted animals.
  • Keep garbage securely covered.

Individuals in Haldimand and Norfolk wanting to report wildlife (e.g. raccoons, skunks, foxes, etc.) exhibiting abnormal behaviour should contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Rabies Information Line at 1-888-574-6656 or their local animal control. If, however, the animal was involved in a bite, scratch or any other contact that might result in transmission of rabies to a person, the incident should be reported to the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623. Incidents only involving domestic pets being exposed to potentially rabid animals should be reported to your local vet. Veterinarians seeking assistance with risk assessments, testing or post-exposure management can contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Agricultural Information contact centre at 1-877-424-1300. For more information about rabies visit hnhu.org/health-topic/rabies

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Media contact:
Kris Lutzi, Senior Public Health Inspector
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
t. 519.426.6170 x 3261