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Vaccination reduces risk of rabies

Each spring and summer, the risk of rabies exposure increases as wild animals become more active and people spend more time outdoors.
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Each spring and summer, the risk of rabies exposure increases as wild animals become more active and people spend more time outdoors.

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your pets from rabies is to get your pets vaccinated, according to a press release from the Sudbury and District Health Unit.

While foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats are the main carriers of rabies in Ontario, pets are the link for the transmission of rabies from wildlife to people.

“Pet cats and dogs in the Sudbury and District Health Unit area must have a current certificate of rabies vaccination,” Mark Rondina, an environmental support officer in the health unit's environmental health division. “It’s the law.”

In 2011 the health unit investigated 295 animal bites or suspect rabid animal contacts. Human contact occurred in all cases and resulted in 28 people being vaccinated with post-exposure prophylaxis treatment.

Sometimes these animals were strays, but more often than not they were family pets or the pets of close relatives or friends. These encounters can be avoided by following some simple rules when around animals.

Do:
- Always ask the owner’s permission before touching a pet.
- Always approach pets slowly and carefully.
- Stay away from strays and wild animals.
- Stay calm around animals.

Don’t:
- Don’t make loud noises around pets.
- Don’t bother a pet while it is sleeping or eating.
- Never tease an animal.
- Children should never try to help a hurt animal; get an adult to help.

Rabies is fatal if you are infected and you do not receive post-exposure treatment in time. The virus can be transmitted by saliva through a bite, through a scratch or a cut, or through the moist tissues of the mouth, nose, or eyes.

If you are bitten or scratched by any animal:
- Immediately wash the wound with soap and water.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Report the incident to the health unit and provide as much information as possible related to the incident, including the name and address of the pet owner, a description of the animal and any other information that will help in finding the animal.

For more information about rabies and rabies prevention, contact the health unit's environmental health division at 705-522-9200, ext. 398, toll-free at 1-866-522-9200, or visit www.sdhu.com.

Posted by Arron Pickard


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