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Five cases of raccoon rabies confirmed near Hamilton, Ont.

File photo.

File photo.


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Sunday, December 13, 2015, 6:00 PM - Another raccoon infected with rabies has been discovered near Hamilton, Ont., bumping up the total number to five in the last week.

In light of the positive tests and in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other animals, the Ministry of Natural Resources are expanding the region where they have dropped packets of rabies vaccine.

This is the first time raccoon rabies has been reported in the province in ten years.

The first rabid raccoon was discovered earlier this week after it got into a fight with two dogs in the back of an animal control van in Hamilton, Ont. It is believed the animal may have been trucked in from the United States. The dogs were not up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations and have since been put in quarantine.

On Thursday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that three of the 14 dead raccoons picked up by animal services since Friday also tested positive.

Raccoon rabies hasn't been seen in the province since 2005, while the fox strain of rabies hasn't been reported since 2010. Bat rabies is still present, but only in very limited numbers.

RELATED: Hamilton establishes new tabogganing rules

MINISTRY DISTRIBUTES VACCINE

Officials will continue to monitor the city for at least two years.

"This is of course a concern," Associate Medical Officer of Health Jessica Hopkins told CBC News. "However, the risk to the general public is low."

Hopkins said other animals will be tested for the disease as well.

VIDEO: KEEP RACCOONS AWAY WITH ONE EASY TRICK:

WHAT IS RABIES?

Rabies is a viral disease that can infect most mammals.

It is usually transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. It infects the central nervous system and when left untreated, the death rate is nearly 100 percent.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Headache

Once symptoms show up the disease has a mortality rate of nearly 100 percent.

Rabid animals usually act in an aggressive manner, may be foaming and the mouth and display little fear of humans.

According to the Ministry of Health, the last known case of rabies infection in a human occurred in 1967 in the Ottawa area.

RABIES PREVENTION

The best way to protect your pets against rabies is to keep them up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

Avoid contact with wild animals and supervise pets when outside.

If you or a pet is bitten by an animal that may have rabies, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and consult a medical professional immediately.

Humans who have been exposed to rabies can be treated with immune globulin and four doses of a rabies vaccine over a two-week period, provided treatment is started as soon as possible.

In the past, post-exposure treatment consisted of painful injections in the stomach. Today's vaccines are less painful and can be injected into the arm and thigh.

Sources: CBC | CDC

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