ALERT: Confirmed Cases of Rabies in Hamilton and Surrounding Areas

January 6th, 2016 by Daniel Mudrick

As a pet owner, you’re always keeping an eye on your faithful companion. Please be extra cautious in Hamilton and the surrounding areas, where rabies has been detected in raccoons – the first confirmed cases in Ontario since 2005.

The outbreak is currently restricted to Hamilton. To keep your pets protected, ensure they’re up-to-date on their vaccinations and avoid contact with potentially rabid animals.

The first confirmed case followed an altercation in the back of a control van between two dogs and a racoon on December 2. The racoon was subsequently euthanized, and the dogs were placed in quarantine. Other cases have since been confirmed in Hamilton and surrounding communities, such as Cayuga. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry began immunizing racoons in Hamilton as of December 7.

Rabies is a viral disease, which causes acute brain inflammation in mammals. It resides in the saliva of infected animals. It can be spread through bites that break the skin or by infected saliva getting into an open wound, nose, mouth, or eyes. The incubation period can range from a matter of days up to six months.

Up until now, in Mississauga, Oakville, and Toronto, it has always been assumed that raccoons who are seen staggering, displaying uncharacteristic behavior, or found dead were due to the Canine Distemper virus. Now we must question that assumption and start checking for rabies in all these raccoons.

If you are concerned that your pet may have come into contact with a rabies-infected animal, contact our emergency veterinary hospital immediately at 905-855-2100.

Symptoms vary between animals, but they include:

  • A change in behaviour (heightened aggression, depression, or excitement)
  • Uncharacteristically, repeated uncoordinated movement (staggering or falling)
  • Change in vocalization (unusual bark or meow)
  • Excessive salivation/drooling or difficulty drinking/eating
  • Hypersensitivity (excessive reactions to light, noise, or touch)
  • Paralysis or paresis (complete or partial inability to move part of body)

To learn more about rabies in Ontario from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), click here.

For more information from OMAFRA on the December 2015 outbreak, click here.

We are monitoring this situation and will keep you informed about any further news of rabies in southern Ontario. For now, be sure to watch your pets carefully!

Clarkson Village Animal Hospital stays up-to-date on everything to do with pet health, from the latest news to new medical advances in the veterinary community. Book an appointment with us.

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About Daniel Mudrick

I'm the owner and founder of Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Clarkson Village Animal Hospital has always been a dream of mine, and by caring for one patient at a time, the hospital has continued to grow. During those rare times when I'm not at the hospital, I'm at yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading to stay current on the most recent advances in veterinary medicine.

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