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Let's talk Rabies

Let's talk Rabies
Par Marie-Christine Hamelin, TSA, le June 23, 2014



We are often asked what is the importance of vaccination against rabies, or if vaccination is required or necessary. This week, the Veterinary Hospital Ste-Rose will answer these questions and demystify this deadly disease often underestimated and trivialized in Quebec .

Rabies is an infectious disease of viral origin, which is usually transmitted when the saliva of an infected animal comes into contact with blood, following a bite or a scratch. The virus can also come into contact with a mucous membrane (eye, mouth, nose) or skin wound by licking.

Rabies is a fatal and incurable disease to animals and humans, in 100% of cases. The virus attacks the central nervous system of mammals causing two presentations:

      -Paralytic or dumb: pets often go hide and are more lethargic, while wild animals become less fearful and will approach humans. In both cases, they will eventually be affected by paralysis and die.
      -Furious: Affected animals will be extremely agitated, excited or aggressive. They can bite and attack indiscriminately objects or other animals.
Rabies being an incurable disease, the only effective prevention is vaccination. The vaccine is safe and effective when used according to manufacturers' recommendations. A vaccinated pet will then not be a risk of infecting family members if attacked by an animal potentially rabid.    

If bitten, clean the wound with soap and water and quickly contact a doctor. Rabies is a reportable disease. This means that any suspicious bite or animal must report to the Public Health Agency of Canada. In humans, if care is undertaken very quickly and before symptoms appear, treatment is possible. Otherwise, survival is very unlikely.




Some precautions can also reduce risk.
      -Limit contact with unidentified wild and domestic animals.
      -Keep your dog close to you when walking outside or in risk zones.
      -If you see an animal acting strangely, report it here:





Rage in numbers


Humans ...

More than 1,500 Canadians are treated annually after exposure to rabies.
More than 900 cases are treated after contact with a pet.

In Quebec, the last fatal case occurred in 2000, when a young child had contracted the virus following a bat bite.

In Canada, three other cases are reported: British Columbia in 2003, Alberta in 2007 and Ontario in 2012 For the latter, the victim had contracted rabies outside the country..

Worldwide, 60,000 people die from this disease every year.

Cases of Rabies in Quebec


Cases of Rabies since 2001
  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Dogs 2   3   3 2     3   1 5  
Cats         1                
Bats 8 19 13 7 12 8 15 5 9 7 2 2 15
Racoons   1       4 58 27          
Skunks           1 6 6 2   9   1
Fox 9 3 5 3 4   2 1 1   7 10  
Wolfs   1   1 1     1       1  
All cases in Canada 445 349 265 261 248 229 273 235 145 123 115 141 116

It is 3243 cases of positive animals in Canada since 2000.

The Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario and Manitoba are the most affected provinces.

In Quebec, in 2007 an alarming number of cases were reported, mainly in raccoons. Thanks to a government program of immunization, these animals' cases fell the following year and remained relatively low since that time.

Still in Quebec, dogs cases are reported regularly as you can see in the table, and only one case was reported in 2005 in cats.

As you can see, vaccination is an essential tool in the prevention of this deadly disease. Through the vaccination of domestic and wild animals, we can effectively reduce the incidence of infections.

Do not hesitate to contact members of the Veterinary Hospital Ste-Rose to determine which protocol is recommended for your cat, dog or ferret.

Marie-Christine Hamelin, Veterinary Technician

P.S. At the end of this article, I will link somes videos of animal with symptoms of rabies (or suspected of). These can be choking , so softhearts don't look. Be warn !

The statistics in this articles come from those websites:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Public Health Agency of Canada

Governement of Québec website dedicated to Rabies

World Health Organisation

Don't hesitate to visit their site for more informations.



Link of video

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