RABIES

Note: This resource pertains to rabies as a human public health risk. If you wish to learn more about rabies/rabies vaccine and your pet, click here. To view the “Health Protection and Promotion Act” pertaining to rabies, immunization and your pet, click here. (Note: right click and choose “Save link as” if you would like to save the file to your computer)


For public health information on rabies in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph area, please visit the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health web-page.


What is rabies?

How can I avoid getting rabies?

What do I do if I suspect I have come into contact with the rabies virus?

What happens to the animal that bit me?


What is rabies?

  • Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can affect any mammal, including humans! Typically, infected wildlife and unvaccinated animals are the source for this virus, which is transmitted by saliva and subsequently attacks the nervous system. Prior to death, infected animals may exhibit signs of increased aggression or shyness, shifting gait, facial twitching, snapping at the air, dilated pupils or excessive salivation.

How can I avoid getting rabies?

  • Do not come into contact with animals you are unfamiliar with, especially if they are behaving strangely

  • Do not touch sick animals, even if you are attempting to help them

  • Do not touch dead animals

  • Have screens to prevent bats from entering your home

  • Ensure that your pet’s rabies vaccine is up to date – it’s the law!

  • Stay away from wild animals

What do I do if I suspect I have come into contact with the rabies virus?

  • If you find a bat in your house, trap it and take it for testing – do not release it! You may not even be aware that a bat has bitten you, especially if you have been sleeping!

  • If you have been bitten by any animal, do not release it.

  • If you have a wound from a bite of any animal, wash it with soap and water immediately

  • Contact a doctor immediately

  • Notify the Public Health Agency immediately

What happens to the animal that bit me?

  • A dog, cat or ferret would be put under a quarantine (usually at home), away from other animals and humans to be observed for signs and symptoms of rabies. The duration of this observation period is dictated by government veterinarians.


Note: it is important to vaccinate your pet against rabies on a schedule prescribed by the manufacturer. If they bite someone and are unvaccinated or you are unable to provide proof of a valid booster vaccine, your pet may be subject to a lengthy quarantine spanning 6 months or more, or even euthanasia!