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Skunk Tests Positive for Rabies in Elma Ward

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Perth County – A skunk located in Elma Ward has tested positive for rabies. This is the fourth positive result in Perth County this year (three cows have previously been reported). All of these cases were identified as the fox strain of rabies and are unrelated to the situation occurring in the Hamilton area, where 354 cases of raccoon rabies have been found since 2015.

“No potential exposures to humans or other animals has been reported with this skunk” explains Dale Lyttle, Senior Public Health Inspector. “This is another reminder that rabies still exists in Perth County and residents need to be cautious when they encounter wild animals or any animal that appears sick” adds Lyttle.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are planning to drop baits in Perth County to help prevent further spread of the fox strain of rabies in September of this year. These khaki-coloured baits are filled with a rabies vaccine that is absorbed through the lining of the animal’s mouth when eaten. If these baits are found they should not be touched, but left for raccoons, skunks and foxes to eat.

The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and can be carried in the saliva of infected mammals, such as dogs, cats, foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats. It can spread to humans through a bite, scratch, cut or contact with the moist tissues of the mouth, nose and eyes. It is important to remember once symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal.

To protect your family and your pets from rabies:

  • Keep pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccination. In Ontario, it’s the law that all cats and dogs over three months of age be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Teach children to stay away from wild animals, dogs and cats they don’t know or animals that are acting strangely.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your livestock against rabies.
  • Stay away from any wildlife, dog or cat that you don’t know or any animal that is acting strangely. A strange acting animal could be a sign that it is sick or injured.
  • Keep pets away from wildlife. Don’t let your pets run free in the neighbourhood and keep them indoors at night.
  • Don’t feed, transport or relocate wildlife.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the area thoroughly with soapy water, seek medical advice immediately, and then contact the Perth District Health Unit at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.

If your pets or livestock have had contact with a wild animal, such as a bat, skunk, fox or raccoon, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarians seeking assistance with risk assessments or post-exposure management can call the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at 1-877-424-1300.

If an animal is acting strange or sick, and neither a human nor pet or livestock have been exposed, contact your municipal animal control department or the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For non-emergencies and information about rabies in wildlife, call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry rabies hotline at 1-888-574-6656.

For more information:

  • Call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267
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