A calf located on a farm in Elma Ward has tested positive for rabies. This is not surprising since a rabid animal was already found on the same farm in November of 2016. This puts the total number of rabid cows in Perth County to five since 2015. “This positive result continues to remind us that rabies is still present in Perth County,” says Dale Lyttle, Senior Public Health Inspector.
Rabies is almost always fatal. The rabies virus can be carried in the saliva of infected mammals, such as dogs, cats, foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats. It is normally spread to humans (or other mammals) through a bite, scratch, cut or contact with the moist tissues of the mouth, nose and eyes. “People should take note of these recent rabies cases and ensure their dogs and cats, even barn cats, are up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations. This will not only help protect their pets but will also help protect their families from the virus,” explains Lyttle.
The infected calf was most likely in contact with a rabid wild animal, such as a skunk or fox and the Health Unit is working with the farm operator to investigate possible human exposure.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is working with the farmer and veterinarian to implement a Precautionary Confinement Period for the other cattle that were in the group with the infected animal.
To protect your family and your pets from rabies:
* Keep pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccination. In Ontario, it’s the law that all cats and dogs over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies
* Teach children to stay away from wild animals, dogs and cats they don’t know or animals that are acting strangely. A strange acting animal could be a sign that it is sick
* Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your livestock against rabies
* Keep pets away from wildlife. Don’t let your pets run free in the neighbourhood and keep them indoors at night
* Don’t feed, transport or relocate wildlife.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the area thoroughly with soapy water, seek medical advice immediately, and then contact the Perth District Health Unit at 519-271-7600 ext 267 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 ext 267.
If your pets or livestock have had contact with a wild animal, such as a bat, skunk, fox or raccoon, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarians seeking assistance with risk assessments or post-exposure management can call the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at 1-877-424-1300.