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09/22/11 Fall is a Good Time to Review Rabies Precautions
Stonewall, Man., September 22, 2011— Encounters with wildlife increase at this time of year when animals come closer to yards and buildings in search of winter homes. The rabies virus has been positively confirmed in animals across Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency compiles reports on rabies prevalence. In Manitoba, from January to June, there have been nine cases confirmed in skunks, a horse and a cat. While the number of cases is low compared to other years, like 2000 where there were 237 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in Manitoba, the Interlake Regional Health Authority is reminding people to avoid contact with wildlife at all times and to exercise the following precautions to remain free from contact with the rabies virus.
 
•   Vaccinate your pets against rabies and keep their rabies immunizations up-to-date.
•   Don’t let your pets roam free outdoors, especially at night.
•   Avoid contact with wildlife and do not handle wild animals. This includes not feeding wildlife. Appreciate wild animals from a distance.
•   Teach children to never approach unfamiliar animals, even if they seem friendly or appear to be sick and in need of help.
 
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus carried in the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies is spread when infected animal saliva gets under the skin (usually by a bite) or on the mucous membranes such as the lining of the mouth, nose or eyes.
 
Wild animals that are most likely to carry rabies include bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes. Domestic animals, particularly dogs and cats, and farm animals such as horses and cows can get rabies from contact with infected animals.  
 
Vaccination and rabies immune globulin given shortly after a bite can prevent the development of rabies, which is otherwise usually fatal. Each year, rabid animals are identified in the province and human exposures treated. However, human cases of rabies are rare and no cases have been reported in Manitoba for many years.  
 
Individuals who have been bitten by domestic or wild animals should see their health-care provider or contact Health Links–Info Santé at 788-8200 (in Winnipeg) or at 1‑888-315-9257 (toll-free) for advice on wound care and rabies risk. 
 
More information on rabies is available at www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/fs/rabies.pdf.
 
Contact:               Lauralou Cicierski, Public Relations Manager
                                (204) 467-4747, lcicierski@irha.mb.ca                                                     
 
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