The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is launching an initiative that will develop and implement a pilot One Health program focusing on zoonotic diseases (diseases that people can “catch” from animals). Dr. Teed has decided to take part in this group initiative of health care providers, as it fits well with her concern for public health, developed over years of working with pets living with seniors as well as young families, where risks are most high.
The first meeting focused mainly on Rabies. This summer there has been two positive rabies cases already in the region, one in a cow and the other a bat. We were asked to remind our clients that it is law in Ontario that all pets be up to date on Rabies vaccines. For cats (indoor cats as well as outdoor cats), this will generally mean yearly inoculation as 3 year Rabies vaccines often given to dogs are not considered safe in cats. The risk of exposure of course will be much higher in outdoor cats, but rabid bats, for example, often find their way indoors, and so some risk exists. As well many indoors cats do escape or venture out from time to time, and being less savvy to outdoor risks, can fall victim to attacks. Unvaccinated pets pose a risk to your families and friends. In the clinic setting, we see several pets each year that are Rabies suspects. The risks are real. Rabies is rarely treatable, unless a series of vaccines are begun immediately after exposure to a bite. Bites from pets, livestock, or wildlife are reportable to the Ministry of Health by law. There is a penalty of up to $100 per day, yes, per day, for pets overdue on their rabies vaccine, if your pet bites someone. In addition, if your pet bites someone, the pet will need to be quarantined for at least 10 days at your expense.
Be safe, have your pets protected against Rabies.
Teach your children to stay away from strange cats and dogs and wildlife. Remember rabid animals may not act predictably. They may display overt aggression, or they may act friendly and unafraid of humans.
If you’ve been bitten, report it to your doctor or directly to the Ministry of Health.