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Time to vaccinate pets against rabies, Health Unit advises

May is Rabies Awareness Month

SIMCOE, ON, APRIL 25, 2008 – Haldimand and Norfolk residents are being urged to make use of special offers in May to get their pets vaccinated against rabies.

“The law requires that every cat or dog over three months of age be immunized against rabies, so we are urging people to make use of these low-cost offers,” said Glen Steen, Healthy Environment Program Coordinator for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Individuals who fail to have their animals immunized and/or re-immunized against rabies are subject to a fine of $85.”

In conjunction with rabies awareness month, clinics are being held throughout Norfolk, while in Haldimand vouchers can be obtained to visit local veterinarians.

In Norfolk, the Simcoe and District Humane Society will offer the vaccine at clinics at $10 per animal on May 8 at the Delhi Community Centre/Arena, on May 13 at Port Dover Arena, on May 20 at Langton Arena, on May 15 at Simcoe Talbot Gardens Arena and on May 22 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 $15.

Owners of immunized animals will have received certificates of vaccination indicating a due date for re-immunization.

Rabies cases have decreased over the years for a number of reasons, including a baiting program introduced by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1995, whereby 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 seven bats, with the latest bat testing positive in 2007. .

Other factors contributing to the decline include reporting 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.

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.

“Although the incidence of rabies has declined, the disease is still a threat and we need to be vigilant to keep it in check,” Steen said. “From the Health Unit’s viewpoint, this is a public health issue because a vaccinated pet provides a barrier between wildlife and humans.”

Media Contact:
Glen Steen, Program Coordinator,
Healthy Environment Team,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-583-6170 Ext. 3204