May 2nd, 2017

Simcoe, ON May is Rabies Awareness Month and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) would like to remind animal owners to protect their pets and family by vaccinating their animals (including their farm animals) against rabies.

“Vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of rabies,” said Stephanie Pongracz, manager of Environmental Health at the HNHU. “Pets are the link between a rabid animal and us. Vaccinating your pets protects both your pets and your family. “

With the recent cases of rabies in domestic animals in the region, it has become especially important to protect our pets and treat wild animals with extreme caution.

Rabies is spread through the saliva of an infected animal by a bite or scratch and is fatal if left untreated. Any mammal can be infected by rabies, with raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes being common regional carriers. Pets such as dogs and cats should be vaccinated for rabies at the age of 3 months, and the vaccination should be kept up-to-date. It’s the law in Ontario.

Any bite or scratch from a domestic animal, raccoon, bat or other wild animal is considered rabies exposure. If you are exposed:

  • Immediately wash the wound with soapy water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Report the exposure to the HNHU at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623 during business hours, or 1-877-298-5888 after 4:30pm Monday to Friday, on weekends and on a holiday.

To prevent rabies:

  • Keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Other domestic animals that roam outside, like horses, llamas or donkeys, should also be vaccinated.
  • Avoid strays and don’t pet animals you don’t know.
  • Supervise your pets. Don’t let them run free, especially at night.
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food outside. This can attract other unwanted animals.
  • Do not touch animals that look sick, even if you want to help them.

Those 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.

Incidents only involving 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, please visit hnhu.org

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Media Contact:

Stephanie Pongracz

Program Manager, Environmental Health Team

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

519.426.6170  EXT 3216     stephanie.pongracz@hnhu.org