With the recent changes to the pet ownership laws under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Northwestern Health Unit wants to remind pet owners to make sure their pet’s rabies vaccinations are up-to-date.

 As of July 1, 2018,

• All dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 3 months in Ontario must be vaccinated regularly against rabies
• All horses, cattle and sheep intended to come into direct contact with the general public must also be vaccinated; and
• Horses, cattle and sheep which are only accessible to persons responsible for their care and control will remain exempt from the rabies immunization requirement

The NWHU also advises pet owners that vaccinations should be updated every one to three years depending on the vaccine given.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous systems and humans and other animals can be infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal.

To prevent rabies:

• Keep your pets rabies vaccination up-to-date
• Avoid feeding or handling wild animals
• Avoid strays and don’t pet animals you don’t know
• Supervise your pets. Don’t let them run free, especially at night
• Don’t leave your pet’s food outside. This can attract other unwanted animals
• Do not touch domestic or wild animals that look sick or are acting strangely even if you want to help them

If you have been bitten by an animal:

• Wash the wound with soap and water
• Contact your family doctor immediately. The Health Unit can provide post-exposure rabies vaccine to your doctor if needed
• As soon as you can, call the health unit to report the incident. The health unit will investigate all reports of animal bites and scratches to assess the risk of rabies. If the animal does not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination, the owner can be fined.

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon is the Medical Officer at Health with the Northwestern Health Unit and she’ll have more when she joins Thursday’s Q Morning Show just after 8:00am!

Northwestern Health Unit 

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