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Do you know what to do to protect your self from rabies?

As the weather warms up, encounters with wildlife increase and so does the chance to encounter an animal with the rabies virus. Rabies virus has been positively confirmed in animals across Canada. Since 2014, Interlake-Eastern RHA has had nine confirmed cases of rabies in animals in the region. The majority of cases affected skunks, but there were also cases affecting a bat, cat and dog.

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority is reminding people to avoid contact with wildlife at all times and to exercise the precautions listed below to remain free from contact with the rabies virus.

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus carried in the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies is spread when infected animal saliva gets under the skin (usually by a bite) or in the mouth, nose or eyes. Animals with rabies are known to exhibit unusual behaviours. The virus has two forms: dumb rabies where wild animals lose their fear of humans and appear unusually friendly or show signs of paralysis, and furious rabies where animals can become excited and aggressive, attacking objects or other animals. Wild animals that are most likely to carry rabies include bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes. Domestic animals, particularly dogs and cats, and farm animals such as horses and cows can get rabies from contact with infected animals. 

Dr. Karen Robinson, Interlake-Eastern RHA medical officer of health, reminds regional residents to exercise the following precautions to remain free from contact with the rabies virus:
• Vaccinate your pets against rabies and keep their rabies immunizations up-to-date.
• Don’t let your pets roam free outdoors, especially at night, and keep food and water inside.
• Avoid contact with wildlife and do not handle wild animals. This includes not feeding wildlife. If handling dead animals, be sure to wear protective gloves and clothing.
• Teach children to never approach unfamiliar animals, even if they seem friendly or appear to be sick and in need of help.
• To report a domestic animal exposed to or injured by an animal suspected of having rabies (where no human exposure has occurred) contact Manitoba Agriculture at 204-470-1108.
• If you’ve been bitten or scratched by any animal, clean wounds or bites with soap and water for several minutes. Call Health Links at 1-888-315-9257 (available 24 hours-7 days a week) and seek medical attention as needed
• Cats and dogs that have bitten or scratched someone are observed for 10 days for signs to determine if they may be sick with rabies – pets are not automatically put down. If animal has died or been euthanized, the brain must be tested to determine rabies risk. Staff members with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which includes veterinarians, oversee potential rabies cases in animals.

 When required, post exposure rabies vaccine is provided to people free of charge through local health care providers. Vaccinations given shortly after exposure to a rabid animal can prevent the development of rabies. Human cases of rabies are rare and no human cases have ever been reported in Manitoba. 
 
More information on rabies is available from Manitoba Health website: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/diseases/rabies.html

 

 

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