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Eight Cases of Rabies Confirmed in Region

July13, 2013 - According to Kathryn Baldwin, Interlake-Eastern RHA communicable disease coordinator, cases of rabies have already been confirmed this year in the Interlake-Eastern RHA in skunks. Elsewhere in Manitoba, dogs and a fox have been infected. This year, there have been a total of 8 cases of rabies in animals in the Province from January to May. This was the same number confirmed in 2012.


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 in the mouth, nose or eyes. Animals with rabies are known to exhibit unusual behaviours. The virus has two forms: dumb rabies where wild animals lose their fear of humans and appear unusually friendly or show signs of paralysis, and furious rabies where animals can become excited and aggressive, attacking objects or other animals. 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.  


 Baldwin is reminding region residents 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, and keep food and water inside.

  Avoid contact with wildlife and do not handle wild animals. This includes not feeding wildlife. If handling dead animals, be sure to wear protective gloves and clothing.

  Teach children to never approach unfamiliar animals, even if they seem friendly or appear to be sick and in need of help.

  If you or your pet have had an unusual encounter with a wild animal, and if you’ve been bitten or attacked, clean wounds or bites with soap and water for several minutes. Call Health Links at 1-888-315-9257 (available 24 hours-7 days a week) and seek medical attention as soon as possible hours.

  An animal’s brain is required for testing of rabies. Pets believed to be exposed to rabies or involved in provoked or unprovoked biting by a wild animal are observed for 10 days for signs to determine if they may have contracted the rabies virus – pets are not automatically put down. Staff members with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, that includes veterinarians, oversee potential rabies cases in animals.


When required, post exposure rabies vaccine is provided free of charge through local health care providers. Vaccinations given shortly after exposure to a rabid animal can prevent the development of rabies. Human cases of rabies are rare and no cases have been reported in Manitoba for many years.  


More information on rabies is available from Manitoba Health

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