Rabies

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. Visit one of our local low cost rabies vaccination clinics.
  • Learn more about the City’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-law
  • For more information on rabies in Ontario visit www.ontario.ca/page/rabies

Positive rabies results in the City of Hamilton

Total number of animals found positive for raccoon rabies in Hamilton from 2015 to date: 232

Raccoon icon illustration

146 Raccoons

Skunk icon illustration

83 Skunks

Fox icon illustration

1 Fox

Cat icon illustration

2 Cats

Note: A skunk was found in Lower East Hamilton was confirmed to have bat strain rabies  which is not included in the above total for Hamilton or the tables below.


Positive rabies results in Ontario

Total number of animals found positive for raccoon rabies in Ontario from 2015 to date: 294

Other areas outside the City of Hamilton affected by raccoon rabies strain reports include:

  • Haldimand-Norfolk
  • Niagara Region
  • Brant County
  • Halton Region

Positive tests in City of Hamilton reporting areas

The number of animals that have tested positive for raccoon rabies in each City of Hamilton reporting area:

Area Number of  Positive Raccoons Number of Positive Skunks Other Positive Total
Ancaster 27 4 1 cat 32
Dundas 21 6 0 27
Flamborough 3 1 0 4
Glanbrook 32 1 1 fox & 1 cat 35
Central Mountain 3 14 0 17
East Mountain 6 7 0 13
West Mountain 1 4 0 5
Lower Central Hamilton 8 3 0 11
Lower East Hamilton 20 14 0 34
Lower West Hamilton 12 19 0 31
Lower Stoney Creek 9 5 0 14
Upper Stoney Creek 4 5 0 9
Total 146 83 3 232

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) conducts testing on sick or deceased animals that have not had any reported contact with humans or other domestic animals and tests are completed in batches. Animals that may have had contact with humans would be tested through Public Health Services.  There may also be instances where a rabid animal has been identified by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) where a domestic animal has had contact with a rabid animal.

2017 results

The number and species of animals that have tested positive for the Raccoon Rabies virus by area in the City of Hamilton for 2017:

Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Skunk March 3, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon March 3, 2017 Dundas
1 Raccoon March 3, 2017 Ancaster
1 Raccoon March 10, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon March 10, 2017 Dundas
1 Raccoon March 10, 2017 Glanbrook
1 Skunk March 23, 2017 East Mountain
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon February 2, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk February 2, 2017 Dundas
1 Cat February 6, 2017 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon February 22, 2017 Lower Central Hamilton
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon January 3, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon January 3, 2017 Ancaster
1 Raccoon January 3, 2017 Dundas
1 Skunk January 3, 2017 Dundas
3 Skunks January 3, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
3 Skunks January 27, 2017 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk January 27, 2017 Dundas
1 Raccoon January 27, 2017 Lower Cental Hamilton
1 Raccoon January 27, 2017 Dundas
1 Raccoon January 27, 2017 Flamborough
1 Raccoon January 27, 2017 Lower West Hamilton

Previous year results

2016 results

The number and species of animals that have tested positive for the Raccoon Rabies virus by area in the City of Hamilton for 2016:

Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon December 2, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon December 2, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk December 19, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon November 2, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon November 2, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Raccoon November  2, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
2 Skunks November 2, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk November 2, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Skunk November 2, 2016 Flamborough
1 Raccoon November 10, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon November 10, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Raccoon November 10, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Skunk November 10, 2016 Lower West Mountain
1 Raccoon November 17, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon November 17, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Skunk November 17, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Skunk November 17, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon November 25, 2016 Flamborough
3 Skunks November 25, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon November 25, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon October 7, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon October 7, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk October 7, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk October 12, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon October 12, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon October 19, 2016 Dundas
1 Skunk October 19, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon October 28, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon October 28, 2016 Dundas
2 Racoons October 28, 2016 Glanbrook
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
2 Raccoons September 1, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon September 1, 2016 Dundas
1 Skunk September 1, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Fox September 1, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon September 7, 2016 East Mountain
1 Raccoon September 8, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Raccoon September 8, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon September 8, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon September 8, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon September 16, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon September 23, 2016 Ancaster
1 Skunk September 23, 2016 Ancaster
2 Skunks September 29, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Skunk September 29, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Skunk September 29, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon September 29, 2016 Ancaster
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Skunk August 4, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon August 4, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon August 4, 2016 Central Mountain
2 Raccoons August 11, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon August 11, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon August 11, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
1 Skunk August 19, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon August 19, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon August 19, 2016 East Mountain
2 Raccoons August 19, 2016 Lower East Mountain
1 Cat August 25, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon August 26, 2016 East Mountain
1 Raccoon August 26, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon August 26, 2016 Dundas
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon July 4, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon July 6, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon July 6, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Raccoon July 6, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
1 Skunk July 6, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk July 6, 2016 Ancaster
1 Skunk July 6, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Raccoon July 19, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon July 19, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
2 Raccoons July 19, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon July 25, 2016 Ancaster
1 Skunk July 25, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon July 28, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon July 28, 2016 Ancaster
1 Skunk July 28, 2016 Central Mountain
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon June 2, 2016 Dundas
1 Skunk June 2, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon June 2, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk June 2, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Raccoon June 13, 2016 East Mountain
2 Raccoons June 13, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon June 15, 2016 East Hamilton
1 Raccoon June 15, 2016 Ancaster
2 Raccoons June 28, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon June 28, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon June 28, 2016 West Mountain
1 Raccoon June 28, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
1 Skunk June 28, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Reported Area
1 Raccoon May 5, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon May 5, 2016 Ancaster
3 Raccoons May 5, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
3 Skunks May 5, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk May 5, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Raccoon May 10, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
2 Skunks May 10, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk May 10, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Skunk May 10, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk May 10, 2016 West Mountain
1 Skunk May 20, 2016 East Mountain
1 Skunk May 20, 2016 Ancaster
1 Skunk May 20, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon May 26, 2016 Flamborough
1 Raccoon May 26, 2016 Lower Central Hamilton
2 Skunks May 26, 2016 Central Mountain
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Date Area
1 Raccoon April 8, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
2 Raccoons April 13, 2016 Ancaster
3 Raccoons April 13, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon April 13, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
3 Skunks April 22, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
1 Skunk April 22, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Skunk April 22, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon April 22, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon April 28, 2016 Ancaster
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Date Area
1 Raccoon March 2, 2016 Ancaster
4 Skunks March 2, 2016 East Mountain
1 Skunk March 2, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Skunk March 2, 2016 West Mountain
2 Skunks March 2, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk March 2, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
1 Skunk March 2, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Raccoon March 10, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Skunk March 16, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk March 16, 2016 East Mountain
1 Raccoon March 16, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon March 16, 2016 Dundas
1 Raccoon March 16, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon March 16, 2016 Central Mountain
3 Raccoons March 16, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Skunk March 23, 2016 East Mountain
1 Raccoon March 23, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon March 31, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk March 31, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk March 31, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Skunk March 31, 2016 Central Mountain
1 Skunk March 31, 2016 Lower West Hamilton
1 Skunk March 31, 2016 Ancaster
Positive Test Results for Rabies (Raccoon Rabies Strain) in Wild Animals Date Area
4 Raccoons February 3, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon February 3, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon February 3, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Raccoon February 3, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon February 3, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
1 Raccoon February 10, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon February 10, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
1 Skunk February 18, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
2 Skunks February 18, 2016 Central Mountain
2 Skunks February 18, 2016 West Mountain
1 Skunk February 18, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon February 18, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon February 18, 2016 East Mountain
3 Raccoons February 18, 2016 Ancaster

Last updated: February 19, 2016

Positive Test Results for Raccoon Rabies Date Area
1 Raccoon January 5, 2016 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon January 5, 2016 Ancaster
1 Raccoon January 26, 2016 Upper Stoney Creek
2 Raccoons January 26, 2016 Ancaster
3 Raccoons January 26, 2016 Lower East Hamilton
2 Raccoons January 26, 2016 Lower Stoney Creek
2 Raccoons January 26, 2016 Glanbrook

2015 results

The number and species of animals that have tested positive for the Raccoon Rabies virus by area in the City of Hamilton for 2015:

Positive Test Results for Raccoon Rabies Date Area
1 Raccoon December 4, 2015 Lower Stoney Creek
3 Raccoons December 9, 2015 Glanbrook
1 Raccoon December 15, 2015 Glanbrook
2 Raccoons December 21, 2015 Lower East Hamilton
2 Raccoons December 21, 2015 Glanbrook

All about rabies

Rabies is caused by a virus. Any warm-blooded animal can get rabies, including humans.It is transmitted or spread through a bite or other saliva contact from an infected animal. Rabies is a preventable viral disease that infects the central nervous system and without prevention treatments, it is usually fatal. 

Rabies is found more commonly in these animals than others:

  • bats
  • raccoons
  • foxes
  • skunks

Rabies is spread from the saliva of an infected animal to another animal or human through:

  • A bite
  • A scratch or cut
  • Contact with the moist tissue of eyes, nose or mouth

The most common way of getting rabies is through a bite. In Ontario, the rabies virus is mainly found in and spread by:

  • Bats
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Coyotes

Symptoms usually appear three to eight weeks after the bite, but they can appear as soon as nine days afterwards or as long as seven years after a bite.  Rabies is usually fatal unless treatment starts before symptoms appear.

Signs and symptoms of rabies in humans

Symptoms usually begin with:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • General weakness or discomfort

As rabies progresses, more symptoms appear and may include:

  • Insomnia – trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Partial paralysis
  • Excitation and hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Hypersalivation - increase in saliva
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hydrophobia - fear of water or unable to drink

Death usually occurs within days of the start of these symptoms.

An animal will show signs of rabies from three to 12 weeks after infection. 

Signs and symptoms of rabies in animals

Signs of rabies in animals include:

  • Friendly or tame animals that are usually wild
  • Hiding in isolated areas and depression
  • Loss of fear of humans, especially skunks (for ex., they do not run away when approached by humans or domestic animals)
  • Paralysis - abnormal facial expressions, drooping heads, sagging jaws or paralyzed hind legs
  • Extreme excitement and aggression
  • Gnawing and biting their own legs
  • Attacking objects or other animals
  • Frothing at the mouth

Here are the steps to take if an animal bites or scratches you:

  • Wash the bite or scratch with soap and water immediately. This reduces the chances of an infection. 
  • Call your doctor immediately.  A doctor should look at all animal bites.
  • Call the City of Hamilton right away at 905-546-2489. We answer the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We can help determine your risk of exposure to rabies. We will talk to you about how to get vaccinated for rabies.
  • Call Animal Services at 905-574-3433 if you want to press charges against the pet owner or have the animal investigated.
  1. Try not to touch your pet because there may be saliva from the animal on your pet’s fur.
  2. Call your veterinarian to discuss the bite or scratch.
  3. Report the bite to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, also known as OMAFRA, at 1-877-424-1300.
  4. Call Animal Services at 905-574-3433 if you want to press charges against the pet owner or have the animal investigated.

The treatment for rabies is post-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PEP.

  • Doctors usually give PEP shots in four visits over a two-week period.
  • You should get PEP as soon as possible after exposure to rabies.
  • PEP is safe and effective.
  • PEP shots are free for Ontario residents.
  • If you had PEP shots before, talk to your doctor to find out how many more shots you will need. 

Here are some tips to protect your family and pets from rabies:

  • Make sure your dogs and cats have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. You are required by law to vaccinate all of your cats and dogs over the age of three months.   
  • Do not let your pets roam free outside.  Keep your pets on a leash.
  • Keep your pets indoors at nighttime to avoid contact with wild animals.
  • Avoid feeding your pets outdoors; empty food bowls attract wild or stray animals.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered. Garbage attracts wild and stray animals.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.   
  • Do not feed or touch wild or stray animals.
  • Teach children not to touch animals, including dogs and cats, even if they appear friendly. 
  • Avoid animals behaving strangely.
  • Report stray animals to Animal Services at 905-574-3433.
  • Report all animal bites, scratches and possible rabies exposures to Public Health Services at 905-546-2489.
  • Talk to your doctor about a pre-exposure vaccine for rabies if you are:  
    • Working in a job that may expose you to rabies such as a lab worker, veterinarian, animal control or wildlife worker.
    • Spending more than one month in a country where rabies is common

Nearly all human cases of rabies in Canada over the past several years have been a result of bites from rabid bats. Bat bites may be hard to see.

Number of bats found positive with rabies in Hamilton

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0 1 2 2 2

These positive results only include bats that have bitten or scratched a person.  These do not reflect the number of actual rabid bats in Hamilton.

Note: In addition to the two bats that have tested positive for rabies in 2016, a skunk was confirmed to have bat strain of rabies and was found in Lower East Hamilton on September 4, 2016 which is not included in the above table.

What to do if you come into contact with a bat

Here are the steps to take if you are exposed to a bat:

  • If you have been bitten, scratched or exposed to bat saliva call your doctor immediately. 
  • If you find a bat in a room with a child or adult who cannot give a reliable history of contact with a bat, call your doctor immediately.
  • Call the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2489.  We answer the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We will talk to you about the rabies vaccine and tell you how to get the bat tested for rabies. 
  • If there is a bat in your house, try to keep the bat in one room. Make sure other people do not touch the bat. Do not try to capture the bat. Call Animal Services at 905-574-3433 or a wildlife removal service.

What to do if your pet comes into contact with a bat

Here are the steps to take if your pet is exposed to a bat:

  • Call your veterinarian to discuss the care of your pet.
  • Contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs 1-877-424-1300 to talk about whether the bat should be tested for rabies.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for your cats and dogs.

Contact us

For more information contact:
Phone: 905-546-2489
Email: publichealth@hamilton.ca