SIMCOE, ON, APRIL 27, 2007 – Residents in Haldimand and Norfolk counties are being urged to get their pets vaccinated against rabies in May, which is rabies awareness month.
Clinics are being held throughout Norfolk, while in Haldimand vouchers can be obtained to visit local veterinarians.
“The law requires that every cat or dog over three months of age be immunized against rabies and now is the time to get a low-cost rabies shot for your pet,” explained Glen Steen, Healthy Environment Program Coordinator for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
In Norfolk, the Simcoe and District Humane Society will offer the vaccine at clinics at $10 per animal on May 15 at the Delhi Community Centre/Arena, on May 17 at Port Dover Arena, on May 22 at Langton Arena, on May 24 at Simcoe Talbot Gardens Arena and on May 29 at Waterford Arena. All clinics run from 3 to 8 p.m. The Health Unit website at www.hnhu.org will also carry the schedule.
In Haldimand County, pet owners can visit any county office to receive a voucher to present to veterinarians to receive the rabies vaccine for $10.
Individuals who fail to have their animals immunized and/or re-immunized against rabies are liable for a fine of $85. Owners of immunized animals will have received certificates of vaccination indicating a due date for re-immunization.
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals. The virus is carried in the saliva of infected animals, and is transmitted to pets and humans by a bite or scratch, or possibly by contamination of an open cut or mucous membranes. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.
There is a long history of rabies within Haldimand and Norfolk counties. From 1990 to 1996, there was a total of 202 confirmed cases within the counties – 117 red foxes, 28 cats, 20 cows, 16 skunks, eight dogs, and the remainder comprised of bats, goats, pigs and raccoons.
The incidence of the disease dropped dramatically in southwestern Ontario after the Ministry of Natural Resources introduced its baiting program in 1996, where vaccine is added to bait dropped in the wild. Since then, only nine cases of rabies have been confirmed in Haldimand and Norfolk – two foxes, one skunk and six bats, with the latest bat testing positive in 2006.
Several other factors have contributed to the drop in rabies cases, including reporting of animal bite incidents to the Health Unit as required by law, pet owners keeping their animals up-to-date with rabies shots, and agencies such as the Simcoe and District Humane Society providing rabies vaccination clinics to the public.
“Collectively, these coordinated efforts break the chain of transmission,” Steen explained. “From the Health Unit’s viewpoint, a vaccinated pet is a human health issue, because the vaccinated pet provides a barrier between wildlife and humans. Rabies is still a threat in Ontario’s southwestern counties, and only through our continued efforts can the incidence of rabies be maintained at a low-incidence rate.”
Glen Steen, Program Coordinator,
Healthy Environment Team,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-583-6170 Ext. 3204