Horse in Perth County tests positive for rabies

Huron Perth, ON  ̶  A horse located in Blanshard Ward (Perth South)  has tested positive for rabies. This is the third animal to test positive in Huron Perth in 2021.  The first two positive results were in bats. “This latest positive result reminds us that rabies is still present in Huron Perth,” says Dale Lyttle, Senior Public Health Inspector. 

Rabies is almost always fatal. The rabies virus can be carried in the saliva of infected mammals, such as dogs, cats, foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats. It is normally spread to humans (or other mammals) through a bite, or contact with saliva through a scratch, cut or the moist tissues of the mouth, nose and eyes. Residents are urged to make sure their dogs and cats, including barn cats, are up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations.

“It is assumed the infected horse was in contact with a rabid wild animal, such as a skunk or fox,” explains Lyttle. The Health Unit is working with the farm owner on this investigation. At this time, six individuals have received rabies post exposure prophylaxis.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is also working closely with the farm owner to implement a Precautionary Confinement Period (PCP) for the other animals that may have been in close contact with the infected animal.

To protect your family and your pets from rabies:

  • Keep pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccination. In Ontario, it’s the law that all cats and dogs over three months of age be vaccinated against rabies;
  • Teach children to stay away from wild animals, dogs and cats they don’t know, or animals that are acting strangely. An animal acting strangely could be a sign that it is sick;
  • Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your livestock against rabies;
  • Keep pets away from wildlife. Don’t let your pets run free in the neighbourhood, and keep them indoors at night;
  • Don’t feed, transport, or relocate wildlife;
  • Report wildlife that is sick or acting strangely.            

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, seek medical advice immediately, and then contact Huron Perth Public Health at 1-888-221-2133 ext 3670.

If your pets or livestock have had contact with a wild animal, such as a bat, skunk, fox or raccoon, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarians seeking assistance with domestic animal risk assessments or post-exposure management can contact OMAFRA through their online rabies response request form available at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/rabiesrequest, or by calling 1-877-424-1300.

If neither a human nor a domestic animal has been exposed and you are concerned that a wild animal is sick or injured, contact your local animal control, an authorized wildlife rehabilitator or a licensed wildlife trapper. If the animal is dead or you need advice on next steps, call the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry’s Rabies Information Line 1-888-574-6656. Visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/wildlife-rabies-outbreaks-and-control-operations for more information on wildlife rabies control operations.

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