Raccoon Rabies in Ontario: Protect Your Pets

December 10, 2015

Huron County, ON – After four confirmed raccoon rabies cases in Hamilton, the Huron County Health Unit reminds residents to protect themselves, their dogs and their cats against the fatal disease.

These are Ontario’s first raccoon rabies cases since 2005. In one of the Hamilton cases, two unvaccinated dogs came into contact with a rabid raccoon.

Rabies is a disease spread by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. It attacks the brain and spinal cord of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.

“It’s important for both you and your pets to avoid contact with wild animals,” says Public Health Inspector Patrick Landry. “Keeping your cats and dogs on-leash and supervised keeps your pets from running into wild animals. Rabies vaccination is mandatory for cats and dogs three months of age and older, as well as mandatory for some classes of horses in Huron County.” Owners can be fined if they do not vaccinate their animals.

A bat in Huron County tested positive for rabies in 2014. The animals most likely to transmit rabies in Huron County are bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. Landry reminds residents, however, that any mammal can transmit the disease if it carries the virus.

Rabies is entirely preventable. You can reduce your risk of rabies by:

  • Avoiding contact with unfamiliar domestic animals and all wild animals, especially when the animal is ill, acting strangely or is found dead.
  • Avoiding feeding unfamiliar domestic animals and all wild animals.
  • Not allowing pets to run loose outdoors.
  • Keeping your pet’s rabies vaccination up-to-date.

If you or a family member is bitten or scratched by any animal, immediately wash the wound well with soap and water, and then contact your doctor. The incident must be reported to the Health Unit for investigation and assessment of the risk for rabies. Based on that assessment, post-exposure rabies prophylaxis may be recommended or the animal may be observed for signs of the disease.

If you see an animal, especially a raccoon, acting strangely, report it to your local Animal Control services or call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Rabies Hotline at 1.888.574.6656.


Our media contact is: Rita Marshall, communications coordinator, Huron County Health Unit, 519.482.3416 or toll-free 1.877.837.6143 ext. 2023 or rmarshall@huroncounty.ca.
Our spokesperson is:
Patrick Landry, Public Health Inspector. Our media contact will connect you with the spokesperson on this topic.


For more information contact:

Susan Cronin, County Clerk
519.524.8394 (ext 3257)