Health Professionals

Rabies Reporting & Vaccines

Raccoon Strain Rabies is circulating in our raccoon and skunk populations

The overall the risk remains low to the general public but there are measures you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Report potential exposures due to animal bites or scratches to public health by calling 905-546-2489. Wash wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention
  • If you believe you were in contact with a sick raccoon, or if you see other sick raccoons, skunks or other wildlife report it to the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2489.
  • For questions or concerns about the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry baiting program please call 1-888-574-6656
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies, and keep vaccines up to date
  • Learn more about the City’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-law
  • For more information on rabies in Hamilton visit
  • For more information on rabies in Ontario visit

You must report all animal exposures to Public Health Services by:

Phone: 905-546-3570
Fax: 905-546-2787

  • Report high risk exposures by phone.
  • Report low risk exposures by phone or fax.

Complete the Mandatory Reporting Form for Possible Rabies Exposure for all cases of bites, scratches, or suspect exposures between mammals and people (PDF, 50 KB).

High risk exposures

Animal Condition of animal at time of exposure Reporting requirements Management of exposed person
  • Dog

  • Cat

  • Ferret

  • Rabid or suspected to be rabid
  • Unknown, stray or escaped

Call Public Health at 


  • Local treatment of the wound
  • Rabies Prophylaxis -RabIg and HDCV or PCECV
  • Skunk
  • Bat
  • Fox
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon
  • Other carnivores
Regard as rabid 

Call Public Health at 


  • Local treatment of the wound
  • Rabies Prophylaxis -RabIg and HDCV or PCECV

Rabies post exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, should start immediately for bites to the head or neck. PEP can be discontinued if the animal is negative for rabies testing or if the cat or dog survives the ten day confinement period

Animal Condition of animal at time of exposure Reporting requirements Management of exposed person
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Ferret
Healthy, current rabies immunization status and available for 10 day observation

Notify public health:

  • Fax 905-546-2787
  • Local treatment of the wound
  • At the first sign of rabies in the animal, public health may recommend giving RabIg and starting HDCV or PCECV
  • If the bite is on the head or neck begin rabies prophylaxis immediately and discontinue if rabies test is negative. 
  • Livestock
  • Rodents
  • Lagomorphs – hares and rabbits

Consider individually

Notify public health:

  • Fax 905-546-2787

If animal behaviour is unusual, report by phone as well at 905-546-3570.

  • Local treatment of the wound
  • Bites from these animals may require post-exposure rabies prophylaxis if the animal’s behaviour or circumstance is highly unusual.
Non-contact bats found in the bedroom Consider individually

Notify public health:

  • Fax 905-546-2787

If child or adult cannot give a reliable history, report by phone as well at 905-546-3570.

  • Public health must complete a risk assessment.
  • Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis may be warranted.

Rabies vaccine and RabIg

The Ontario Public Health Standards’ Rabies Prevention and Control Protocol recommend that individuals start rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, within 24 hours after the decision is made that PEP is required.

A physician’s decision to order PEP can be supported by:

Post exposure prophylaxis involves administering Rabies Immune Globulin (RabIg) and a schedule of rabies vaccine.  The recommended dosage and schedule is below.

  • For persons not  immunocompromised RabIg is administered on Day 0 (the day the first dose is administered) and four doses of vaccine are administered on Day 0, 3, 7, 14
    • Previously unimmunized immunocompromised persons including people who take corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive agents, who have immunosuppressive illnesses and who take chloroquine and other antimalarials - RabIg is administered on Day 0 the day the first dose is administered) and five doses of vaccine are administered on Day 0,  3, 7, 14 and 28

Post-exposure prophylaxis of previously immunized individuals

RabIg is not indicated and should not be given to someone who has been previously appropriately immunized as indicated below. In previously appropriately immunized individuals who require post-exposure prophylaxis, two doses of HDCV or PCECV, one administered immediately and the other 3 days later, are recommended. Appropriate previous rabies immunization consists of:

  • Documentation of a complete course of pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis with HDCV or PCECV, OR
  • Documentation of complete immunization with other types of rabies vaccine, or with HDCV or PCECV according to unapproved schedules, with the demonstration of an acceptable concentration of neutralizing rabies antibody in serum after completion of the series. Refer to Serologic Testing for information regarding criteria for serologic testing.

A complete course of either HDCV or PCECV, as well as RabIg, is recommended for those who may have received rabies vaccines in the past but do not fulfill the criteria listed above for appropriate vaccination. A serum sample may be collected before the initiation of post-exposure prophylaxis to test for rabies antibody, and if an acceptable antibody concentration (0.5 IU/mL or greater) is demonstrated, the vaccine course may be discontinued, provided that at least two doses of vaccine have been given. If in doubt, consultation with an infectious diseases or public health physician is recommended.

Emergency rooms ordering PEP will only receive the required RabIg and one dose of vaccine, unless arrangements are clearly made for the ER to complete the series of vaccine shots for a patient.

  • If an ER only administers Day 0 vaccine and RabIg, the patient’s family physician must call to order the remaining doses.

Order PEP by phone:

  • Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm: 905-546-2424 ext. 3327
  • After hours, weekends and Holidays:  905-546-3570

Indicate that you wish to order rabies vaccine and the answering service will contacts the public health inspector on call.

You need to provide the following when you call:

  • Requesting physician’s full name
  • Address for delivery
  • Requested time for delivery
  • Patient name, date of birth, current weight (rabies immune globulin is administered based on weight) and patient contact information
  • Basic exposure details such as location of incident, date of exposure and type of animal

You may receive a call back to discuss the PEP order if the circumstances of the exposure do not meet PEP recommendations.

Delivery may take from one to 24 hours from the time you place your order; however usual delivery time is between one to four hours on a 24 hour basis.

Once we supply rabies vaccine and RabIg to a hospital emergency room, physician or nurse practitioner’s office, whether a part of a series or a full series, they cannot be returned to Public Health Services.