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Community Advisory: Rabies
The Saskatchewan Government is advising residents of an increase in reported rabies cases in 2016.
While the threat of rabies in Saskatchewan is still low, there has been an increase in reported rabies cases in 2016.
- · It is critical to keep pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations. All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated regularly, as well as livestock that are in regular contact with people (for example those in petting zoos, pet therapy animals, childrens’ summer camps, and 4-H animals).
- · Individuals need to take precautions when dealing with animals exhibiting symptoms consistent with rabies, such as neurological problems or abnormal behavior. This may include avoiding direct contact with animals and ensuring pets’ vaccinations are up to date.
- · All suspected cases of animal rabies should be reported to the provincial rabies hotline at 1-844-7-RABIES.
- · Provincial rabies programming is in place to protect the health and safety of the Saskatchewan human and domestic animal populations.
Questions and Answers
Q: How many animals with rabies have been found in Saskatchewan in the last few years?
The number of animals found to have rabies in Saskatchewan has varied over the last five years, from a high of 34 cases in 2011 to a low of 13 cases in 2013.
2015 – 23 (9 bat, 2 dog, 12 skunk)
2014 – 20 (9 bat, 1 horse, 10 skunk)
2013 – 13 (6 bat, 2 cat, 5 skunk)
2012 – 24 (5 bat, 1 bovine, 4 dog, 1 equine, 13 skunk)
2011 – 34 (5 bat, 3 cat, 1 dog, 1 equine, 24 skunk)
Q: How many animals with rabies have been found in Saskatchewan so far this year (2016)?
As of July 13, 2016, there have been 18 confirmed cases of rabies in animals.
Q: Have any of the confirmed animals in 2016 had contact with humans?
Exposures to the four domestic animals with rabies have resulted in 25 people receiving post-exposure rabies treatment. These events highlight the risks of rabies to both humans and domestic animals.
Q: Have any of the confirmed animals in 2016 had contact with household pets or farm animals?
Yes; in most cases, an animal is tested for rabies because it has had contact with people or domestic animals, so many of the animals confirmed to have rabies did indeed have contact with other animals. In-contact animals, if vaccinated, are re-vaccinated and placed under observation; if unvaccinated, they are placed under quarantine to ensure that they have not contracted rabies.
Q: What has caused the increase in cases this year?
We don’t currently know what the cause may be.
Q: How many animals with rabies have been found in Canada in the last few years?
In 2015, 151 animals with rabies were found. The number of rabid animals increased in 2015 as compared to previous years due to a reoccurrence of rabies in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
2015 – 151
2014 – 92
2013 – 116
2012 – 141
2011 – 115
Q: Have there been any human rabies cases?
There have been 24 human cases of rabies in Canada since 1924, including three deaths since 2000: one - Alberta (2007), one - British Columbia (2003) and one - Quebec (2000).
There has not been a human case of rabies in Saskatchewan for more than 40 years.
Q: What does the program cost the provincial government?
We have allocated $400,000 cost-shared between the Ministries of Agriculture and Health to deliver the Rabies Response Program.
Q: What are the signs of rabies in an animal?
· The presence of abnormal behaviour is the key feature in an animal with rabies. For example:
· Domestic animals may become depressed and try to hide in isolated places.
· Wild animals may lose their fear of humans and appear unusually friendly.
· Wild animals that usually come out at night may be out during the day.
· Animals may have paralysis which commonly affects the face or neck often seen as difficulty swallowing.
· Animals may become excited or aggressive.
· Animals may attack objects, people or other animals.
Q: How should the public deal with animals suspected of having rabies?
· Producers should work with their local veterinarian to ensure their animals are vaccinated and protected against rabies.
· All suspected cases of animal rabies should be reported to the provincial rabies hotline at 1-844-7-RABIES.
· Avoid direct exposure to animals suspected of carrying rabies. If a person has been scratched or bitten by an animal suspected of having rabies, the affected area should be immediately washed with soap and warm water and the exposed person should see their family doctor or local emergency room department as soon as possible.
Q: What does the provincial rabies program entail?
The Rabies Response Program consists of veterinary-delivered activities led by a contracted Rabies Risk Assessment Veterinarian.
Activities include the collection and submission of samples by veterinarians for rabies testing, response to positive cases and the operation of a 1-844-7-RABIES reporting line.
Posted July 20.
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