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Dec 07 2015

Rabid Raccoon Found in Hamilton

Raccoon

A raccoon captured in the Hamilton area on December 2, 2015 has tested positive for rabies.  The raccoon was showing signs of aggression and bit two other dogs.  This is the first documented case of rabies in a raccoon in Ontario since 2006.
It is not clear at this time how the raccoon contracted the virus.  Rabies in raccoons has been kept under control in Ontario through the use of oral vaccines that are distributed along provincial borders where other rabid animals may enter the province.
If this raccoon was bitten by another rabid raccoon that had entered the province (for example, from New York state), this would represent a failure of the Ontario vaccine program.  It is also possible that this raccoon contracted the virus from a bat.  Further testing on which strain the raccoon had is pending.
Rabies is most commonly carried by bats in Ontario but the other most common carriers are foxes, skunks, and raccoons.  Rabies can be spread to humans as well as domestic animals like dogs, cats, cows, and horses if bitten by a rabid animal.
Rabies is almost always fatal.
This is a good reminder that rabies is still a real threat to pets in Ontario.  The rabies vaccine is very effective at preventing development of rabies in bitten animals, but it is important to maintain immunity with regular booster vaccines.
Pets that are not vaccinated against rabies and are bitten by wildlife suspected or confirmed to have rabies must be quarantined for 6 months at the cost of the pet owner.
Please contact your veterinarian if you are unsure whether your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date.
For more information on rabies in Ontario, visit: http://www.ontario.ca/page/rabies
For more information on rabies quarantines following potential rabies exposure, visit: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/2009/06/articles/diseases/rabies/rabies-quarantine/

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