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City of Hamilton Launches New Rabies Awareness Campaign

HAMILTON, ON – September 28, 2016 – Each year World Rabies Day, an initiative of the Global Alliance on Rabies Control, is recognized on September 28 to bring awareness to rabies, and rabies prevention. The theme for this year’s World Rabies Day is Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate. This year, in light of rabies circulating in the local wildlife animal populations, the City of Hamilton marks the day by launching a new rabies public education campaign: Rabies is Real, with a goal of raising awareness of the risks associated with rabies, and controlling and preventing the spread of rabies to people and pets.

The new campaign features fictional animals such as the ‘Baccoon’ and the ‘Skox’ to grab attention, to remind residents of the threat of rabies and highlights specific actions residents can take to protect ourselves, our families, and pets.

“Public Health and our partners in Animal Services are committed to preventing and controlling the spread of rabies. This campaign is part of ongoing outreach efforts which include providing education to school communities, and engaging high risk occupations, pet owners, and the general public,” says Susan Harding-Cruz, Vector Borne Disease program manager. “Rabies is almost always fatal, but the good news is that it is 100 per cent preventable. World Rabies Day is a good reminder that we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of rabies.”

Tips to protect your family and pets from rabies:

  • Anyone who is bitten, scratched or has contact with the saliva of an animal should immediately wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention as rabies post-exposure vaccine may be needed. Report animal bites and scratches to public health by calling 905-546-CITY (2489).
  • Always keep a safe distance from wild animals and stray or feral cats and dogs. Rabies can make animals aggressive or it can make them appear sick, scared, or friendly.
  • Avoid contact with live or dead animals including raccoons, skunks, other land animals and bats, and unknown dogs and cats.
  • Do not feed, help, or relocate any wildlife or keep them as pets.
  • Keep your pets supervised, and leashed. Learn more about the City’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-law
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies, and keep rabies vaccinations current for dogs and cats to protect them, and prevent any spread to people. Learn about low cost rabies vaccine clinics.
  • If you see sick, injured or strange behaving wildlife report it to City of Hamilton Animal Services 905-546-CITY (2489)

Rabies by the Numbers:

  • 196: The total number of rabid animals that have tested positive for raccoon strain rabies in Ontario
  • 168: The total number of rabid animals found in Hamilton from 2015 to date.
  • 5: The number of species that have been found to carry rabies in Hamilton this year. This includes raccoons, skunks, a fox, a bat, and a stray cat
  • 1513 : the number of human exposures to potentially rabid animals reported to Public Health Services in the last 12 months.
  • 0 – human cases. We want to keep it that way!

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