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- Health Unit Offers Reminder During Summer Vacation to Be Watchful for Animals That Can Spread Rabies –

Summer vacation is arriving for many people, and so too is an increased risk of exposure to animals that could bite or spread rabies.

Typically in warmer weather, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit sees an increase in the number of reported animal bites/scratches incidents in the area. That situation could be heightened during summer vacation as more people visit cottages and campgrounds, or explore parks and other natural areas where they can come in contact with animals.

“It’s important that local residents, cottagers, campers and other visitors to the area are careful around animals,” says Md Azad, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit. “This is especially true for children, who should not pet or approach a wild animal, but enjoy it safely from a distance. If a wild animal is growling or being aggressive, get away from it as quickly as possible.”

The same warning to avoid wild animals also applies to dogs, cats and other pets, he adds. People should not approach or pet animals without the permission, and full attention, of the owner. Pets should be kept under control using a leash, and should be discouraged from running free.

“Even if people just want to be well-meaning and kind by petting or touching an animal, their actions can be misinterpreted by a dog or cat, leading to potential problems such as rabies,” Azad says.

Rabies is almost always a fatal disease caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Rabies can be transmitted to people when they have contact with the saliva of an infected animal – either wild or domestic – through bites, licks or scratches.

The Health Unit must be notified any time an animal bite/scratching incident takes place. Public Health Inspectors investigate each incident to determine if there is a risk of rabies to the person. The animal involved is quarantined for a 10-day period to confirm that is was not sick with rabies when it bit or scratched the victim. Health Unit staff will provide rabies vaccine for the victim, if deemed necessary. An order can also be issued to put the animal down if it poses a risk to public health.

“The best way to reduce your risk of rabies is to avoid animals that can scratch, nip or bite you,” Azad notes. “It is also important to ensure your own pet is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination.”

Each fall, the Health Unit and local veterinarians team up to offer Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics for dogs and cats in the area. To find out more about the vaccination clinics and rabies prevention, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

For media inquiries, contact:

Md Azad, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1494.

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«February 2019»