Important Changes to Ontario Regulation 567: Rabies Vaccination 

As of December 14th, 2018, the amended Ontario Regulation 567: Rabies Vaccination (O. Reg. 567) came into effect under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) has changed rabies immunization requirements for animals in Ontario to ensure consistent implementation of public health rabies prevention and control measures across the province.

Animal owners should be aware of the following changes:

  • Owners must ensure that all ferrets three months of age or over are immunized against rabies, which is the same as the existing requirements for cats and dogs.
  • Owners of horses, cows, bulls, steer, calves, or sheep must ensure that these animals are immunized against rabies. This requirement does not apply if these animals are only accessible by the person(s) responsible for their care and control (for example if these animals do not come into contact with the general public).
Alert: Rabies in Ontario

Raccoon Rabies

Since December 2015, many raccoons and skunks have tested positive for rabies in Ontario, mainly found in the Hamilton area. This is the first time since 2005 that Ontario has had a positive case for this particular strain of the virus, raccoon rabies.

Rabies in Perth County

Since 2015, there have been nine rabies positive animals from Perth County reported to the health unit. These animals included 6 cows, 2 skunks and 1 bat.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a deadly disease that is caused by a virus. The virus attacks the central nervous system and can be spread by various wild and domestic mammals. In Canada, wildlife rabies is most often found in:picture of a puppy dog

  • skunks
  • raccoons
  • foxes
  • bats.

Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries and territories and kills more than 55,000 people every year.

How is rabies spread?

Rabies is spread by infected mammals to other mammals including humans, through saliva.  There are three main ways this occurs:

  • Biting or scratching
  • Through an open cut, sore or wound
  • Through mucous membranes such as mouth, nose, eyes

Vaccination can prevent rabies from developing in humans but it must be given as soon as possible after exposure to the virus. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.

How can I reduce my risk of rabies exposure?

  • Regularly vaccinate your dogs, cats, even indoor cats, and ferrets against rabies, every one to three years – check with your veterinarian
  • Don’t allow your pets to wander freely, especially at night
  • Keep your distance from unfamiliar animals, particularly those that look sick. Warn children to stay away from wild animals and stray pets.
  • Don’t pet an animal if it is hurt, eating, afraid, or has babies close by
  • Don’t feed wild animals
  • Prevent bats from getting inside your house
  • Don’t transport or relocate wild animals

How do I know if an animal has rabies?

You cannot tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it. Animals with rabies often act strangely. For example they may lose their fear of humans, become aggressive, froth at the mouth, and bite or scratch for no reason.

If bitten or scratched by an animal:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water
  • Seek medical attention from a physician.
  • Call the Health Unit and provide information to help in locating and identifying the animal at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267
  • If the animal is not located, the victim will be advised to consult with their doctor concerning post-exposure prophylaxis (rabies shots).

Vaccinate your pet

Picture of cute dogs and catsVaccinating dogs, cats and ferrets will slow the spread of rabies and protect you, your family, your pets and your community from the disease.

It is the law in Ontario that all cats, dogs and ferrets over three months of age are vaccinated for rabies. 

It is the pet owner’s responsibility to make sure their animals are re-vaccinated by the due date specified on the certificate of vaccination issued by the veterinarian. The current fine for not having up-to-date rabies vaccinations for your dog, cat or ferret is $85 plus administrative costs.

Role of the Perth District Health Unit

  • Rabies is a reportable disease in Ontario.
  • Call the Health Unit if you suspect an animal is rabid, or that your animal has been exposed to rabies.
  • Also report animal bites.
  • The role of Public Health Inspectors is to investigate all reports of potential human exposure to rabies from animals by:
    • Obtaining information related to the potential exposure
    • Ensuring proper isolation and confinement by owners of animals involved in biting or scratching incidents
    • Observing the animal involved at the beginning and at the end of the isolation and confinement period
    • Arranging for laboratory testing of suspect animals that are wild, were euthanized, or died during the isolation period
    • Consulting with and delivering post-exposure vaccine to physicians upon request
    • Promoting and enforcing mandatory rabies vaccination of all dogs and cats over three months of age in Perth County.

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