Animal Bites

Animal bites put people at risk of rabies. Keep bites at bay by using care and caution around animals, including your own pet.  

Advice for Parents/Caregivers
  • Never leave a child alone with an animal (including your own pet)
  • Teach children how to safely act around pets or other animals:
    • Ask a pet owner first if it’s OK to touch or approach an animal. Ensure the owner is in control of the animal and aware while the child is approaching the animal.s
    • Do not disturb animals that are sleeping, eating, caring for their young, or showing signs of illness
    • Get children to keep away from wild or stray animals, If a wild animal growls or is aggressive, back away slowly. Never turn around and run. Avoid direct eye contact. Wild animals (like foxes and raccoons) that are friendly may be sick, so stay away!
Advice for Small Children
Advice for Pet Owners
  • Be responsible, especially if children are near your pet
  • Keep pets on leashes and under control when out in public spaces/trails
  • Vaccinate your pet against rabies. It’s the law!

What to Do if Bitten by an Animal

  • Get the pet owner’s contact information. If possible, take a picture of the animal or remember specific features (like markings, collar with tags). This helps with the follow-up investigation to ensure the correct animal is identified.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water
  • Get medical care right away. Rabies is fatal if left untreated
  • Report the bite or scratch to the Health Unit so that further investigation can be done.

For more information, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or email

Additional Resources

Beach Water Test Results

Before heading to the beach, ensure it’s safe for swimming.

Each summer from June to August, the Health Unit does regular testing of beaches in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to ensure they are safe for swimming. Test results are then shared on this website and via the Health Unit’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

PLEASE NOTE: Beach water testing program is now completed for 2020

The Health Unit uses a three-colour system to show test results for local beaches:

  • Green – Open (safe for swimming) – Low Risk
  • Yellow – Advisory Posting – Medium Risk – (Based on latest test results, there are high counts of bacteria in the water. Swimming is not recommended, as it may increase your risk of developing minor skin, eye, ear, nose or throat infections or stomach illness. If you choose to swim during this advisory, avoid dunking your head or swallowing the water).
  • Red – Closed (do not swim; not open for public use) – High Risk

Related Links

Beach Water Contamination

Looking to visit a local beach in the area this summer?

The Health Unit does regular testing of beaches in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to ensure the water is safe for swimming. Check this website or look for signs indicating if a beach is safe for public use.

If a beach is deemed unsafe to swim, it’s due to high counts of bacteria in the water.

Contaminated Beaches
There are a number of ways that beaches can become contaminated with bacteria. Storm water runoff, combined with sewer overflows, sewage treatment plant bypasses, agricultural runoff, faulty septic systems, and large populations of waterfowl like geese all contribute to water pollution which can result in beach postings.

When are beaches most likely to be posted?
Beach postings are most likely to occur after rain storms or prolonged hot weather. Rain water washes fecal material from cats, dogs, birds and other wildlife into storm sewers which flow directly into nearby rivers and lakes. Prolonged hot weather conditions promote the growth of the bacteria in the water.

Water temperature also has a significant effect on bacterial levels. Shallow beaches will have warmer water and a higher potential for bacterial growth.

Reducing Contamination

You can play a role in making local beaches safer to use. Here are some suggestions on how to reduce water contamination:

  • Pet owners should observe the “stoop and scoop” bylaws as domestic pet waste is a major source of bacteria in storm water.
  • Allow water from eavestroughs to discharge onto lawns. This reduces the amount of rainwater going directly into the sewer system.
  • Reduce household water use. This avoids capacity problems at sewage treatment plants that could result in untreated sewage entering lakes and rivers.
  • Fence livestock away from streams and provide them with an alternative source of water. This will benefit both the health of the herd and the environment.
  • Ensure that runoff from feedlots and manure piles are properly contained.
  • Upgrade septic systems and keep them in good working order.

Related Items:

For more information, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.

Hot Weather – Beat the Extreme Heat

During extremely hot weather, it’s important to protect your health by taking precautions to beat the heat. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, coping during a heat wave can be more complex. That’s why it’s essential to maintain a 2-metre (6 feet) distance from others, cover your cough and wash hands frequently — especially if cooling off in an indoor space.

Read on to learn about tips to avoid heat-related illness during COVID-19.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can be very dangerous, especially for infants, older adults, and people with chronic diseases. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • heavy sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • headache
  • fainting
  • paleness
  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • nausea

If you experience any heat-related illness or symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. But remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call ahead if possible to inform health care providers or first responders so they can take appropriate preventive measures

Warnings Issued Ahead of Heat Waves

The Health Unit will issue public warnings in the lead-up to extremely warm conditions in its region:

  • A heat warning will be issued when day-time temperatures are forecast to be 31°C or higher, with a minimum day-time low of 20°C or higher, for two consecutive days. A heat warning is also issued if the humidex will be 40°C or higher for two consecutive days. 
  • An extended heat warning is issued when the same conditions apply, but the heat event is expected to last for three or more days in a row. Notifications will be posted on the Health Unit’s Facebook pageTwitter page, and website.

Tips to Beat the Heat (Including During COVID-19)

During any heat wave, but especially during COVID-19, the Health Unit advises people to:

  • Avoid going out in the sun or heat when possible.
  • Stay cool, and if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place.
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, seek a cool public location such as a municipal cooling center to cool down while following physical distancing rules during this time of COVID-19. To see if there is a cooling centre in your community, contact your local municipality.
  • If you have been instructed by a health care provider or the Health Unit to self-isolate due to COVID-19, do NOT visit a cooling centre. Instead, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, for advice on how to create a personal plan to stay cool.
  • When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. If you plan to go outside during a very hot day, do so early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • Avoid outdoor sports and physical activity.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
  • Currently, many people are wearing a face covering (or homemade mask) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. During high heat and humidity, wearing a mask can make breathing difficult. That’s why when outdoors, staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart is best. Reserve the mask for use indoors for short periods of time when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Avoid alcohol, coffee/tea and pop.
  • Check in regularly by phone or online with vulnerable family, friends, neighbours and others who could be affected by the heat. These include children, older adults, and persons with chronic illnesses, including those who may be self-isolating or limiting trips from home due to COVID-19. Make sure they are OK and are well-hydrated.
  • Eat light, cool foods, and avoid heavy meals that involve using the oven or other hot appliances.
  • Keep shades, drapes and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, but keep windows open slightly. If you do not have air conditioning, use fans.
  • Keep lights off or turned low.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically, or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Never leave a child or pet in a closed, parked vehicle.

Additional Resources

Community Outbreaks

Outbreak Notifications

The page linked below is a list of facility outbreak notifications within the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s jurisdiction.

This list is updated when a new outbreak is declared, when a causative agent is identified, and/or when an outbreak is declared over.

Note to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes: Please ensure your nasopharyngeal swabs and stool specimen kits are not expired. Call the Health Unit during business hours if you require additional kits.

If you require further information, please contact the Communicable Disease Control Department at 1-866-888-4577 or After-Hours at 1-888-255-7839.

Current Community Outbreaks

Food Handler Training

Updated: April 1, 2020

The Health Unit offers food handler training courses. This course teaches participants how to handle and prepare food safely. Upon successful completion, participants receive a certificate (valid for a period of five years) indicating they are registered as a certified food handler.

Due to COVID-19, the Health Unit is unable to offer in-person classroom training until further notice. If you want to take a Food Handler course in the meantime, please use the online In Good Hands learning option.

NOTE: Food handlers whose certification expired after Jan. 1, 2020, will still be considered certified until COVID-19 is resolved. However, to qualify, you must have completed the course in the past five years and not been cited by the Health Unit for critical infractions.

Types of food handler courses offered include:

CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLEClassroom: Cost is $40 per person (test included). Pre-registration is required! Courses are one day in length and run from 9 am to 5 pm. Contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006 to pre-register or for more information.

CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLEHome Study/Take Home: Cost is $20 per person (test included).

AVAILABLEOnline Course: “In Good Hands” course Registration fee online ($34.95 plus HST) and paid directly to the course provider. Register and pay online.

For more information on courses or to confirm space availability for courses, call the Health Unit office at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.

Boil Water Advisories

A Boil Water Advisory (BWA) is a recommendation made to residents to only drink tap water if it has been boiled for at least one minute.

Generally, the Health Unit issues a BWA when there is known contamination of a water supply OR when there is a risk of contamination to the water supply. The BWA helps to protect the health of the community that the water system serves.

Residents will be notified by the Health Unit when the BWA is lifted and the water is safe to drink without boiling.

What to Do During a Boil Water Advisory

For your protection during a BWA, you are strongly urged to boil all water (which is to be used for human consumption) for at least one minute.

  • Water which is to be used for drinking, making baby food, mixing formula or fruit juices, ice, washing fruits and vegetables, or teeth brushing must first be boiled. Start timing one minute only after the water has reached a full rolling boil on your stove or in your kettle.
  • Store the cooled, boiled water in a container, which has been sanitized and has a lid or other means of covering the container. Sanitize the container by washing it in a solution of one gallon of water plus 1/4 cup of bleach. Clean your countertops, sinks dishes and utensils using this solution as well. Do not drink this solution.
  • All fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked should be washed in water that you have boiled.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap to prevent the spread of bacteria. Make sure hands are properly washed after using the toilet, handling diapers, pets, livestock and before preparing food. Wash your hands with soap under running water. After hands are washed and thoroughly dried, apply 60 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Rub hands together with the amount specified on the label until your hands are dry. Cover all surfaces of your hands. The alcohol content of the sanitizer completely evaporates as it dries. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are disinfectants that contain at least 60 percent alcohol, ethanol, isopropanol or a mixture of both.
  • Adults may shower with untreated water as long as no water is swallowed. Adults or young children should sponge-bathe instead of using tub baths. Use a clean supply of water if possible.

For more information, speak to a Public Health Inspector by calling toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006 (After hours number: 1-888-255-7839).

Additional Resources

Current Boil Water Advisories and Drinking Water Advisories

Bat Rabies

Like other mammals, bats may have rabies. There are eight species of bats in Ontario, each of which has its own strain of rabies. The most common species of bats are big brown bat, little brown bat and the silver-haired bat.Bats are an important part of our ecosystem and help reduce the insect population.

Bats cannot be vaccinated using baits, as has been done for foxes and raccoons, as they are insect-eaters and will not consume vaccine baits. International research is being conducted on vaccination methods for bats.

Rabid bats often lose their ability to fly, or do not fly well. If a bat is wandering around in the daylight, acting strangely or crawling around on the ground, it may be rabid. Stay away.

Preventing Bat Rabies:
  • warn children to stay away from all wild animals, including bats
  • bat-proof your home. If bats are found in your home, seek advice from an animal control or wildlife conservation authority
  • be sure your pet’s vaccination is up-to-date as bats can transmit rabies to domestic pets
  • never handle bats or keep bats as a pet
  • seek medical advice if you receive a bite or scratch from a bat. The bat should be considered rabid unless captured and proven otherwise
Direct Contact with a Bat

If you are bitten by a bat or if saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth or a wound, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water, seek medical attention immediately, and notify the local health unit.

If you awaken and find a bat in your room and there is no evidence of bat-human contact, rabies vaccine or post-exposure prophylaxis is not recommended. Post-exposure prophylaxis can be considered for people who were in the same room as a bat and are unable to say whether direct contact occurred (e.g. a sleeping person awakens to find a bat in the room or an adult witnesses a bat in the room with a previously unattended child, mentally challenged person or intoxicated person) and rabies cannot be ruled out by testing the bat.

Direct bat contact may have occurred to people waking up crying or upset while the bat was in the room or there is an obvious bit or scratch mark. The bat in question should be safely collected by an adult, if possible, and submitted for testing.

Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for all people with bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to a bat unless the bat is available for testing and is negative for evidence of rabies. Vaccination should be discontinued if tests of the animal are negative for rabies infection.

Tobacco Enforcement

The Health Unit’s Tobacco Control Officers (TCOs) are designated as Provincial Offences Officers by the Province of Ontario with authority to enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

In the community, the Health Unit’s TCOs are responsible for ensuring all public and workplaces are compliant with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act banning smoking in all enclosed public and workplaces (including work vehicles). They also ensure tobacco vendors follow the laws governing the sale of tobacco products.

Among their duties Tobacco Control Officers:

  • Inspect local businesses, public places, schools and workplaces to ensure proper No Smoking signage is posted as required.
  • Inspect tobacco vendors to ensure they are complying with the law putting tobacco and promotional materials out of site.
  • Inspect tobacco vendors using youth test shoppers to ensure stores will not sell tobacco to anyone under 19 years of age.
  • Lay charges where necessary and follow through court process.
  • Respond to complaints and requests from public for assistance to ensure compliance with SFOA laws.

To lodge a tobacco-related complaint or request assistance call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 and speak to a Tobacco Control Officer.

Additional Resources


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