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World Rabies Day

Get your pets vaccinated!

Sun Country Health Region's Public Health Department is reminding residents to get their family pets vaccinated to help prevent rabies.

"We want to raise awareness about rabies and remind people the most important prevention is to vaccinate your family pet," says Dr. Shauna Hudson, Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) Medical Health Officer.

Figures from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency show that 20 out of the 49 animal rabies cases in Saskatchewan during 2006 and 2007 occurred within SCHR; that is, from the Manitoba and U.S. borders to Glenavon, Lang and Fife Lake. The rabies positive animals in SCHR from 2006 to 2007 included 13 skunks and 3 horses.

Dr. Hudson says 112 animal bites, or other animal exposures with a risk of rabies, were reported to SCHR Public Health in 2007.
 Thirty per cent of the animal bites reported involved children 10 years of age or younger.
 Children aged 5 years and younger were most likely to be bit on the head and neck.
 Bites on the head are at higher risk for rabies because the virus does not have to travel as far to infect the brain.

"It's a misconception to think your child is not at risk because (s)he comes into contact only with the family pet. In fact, 46 per cent of the reported cat and dog bites in SCHR were from the family pet," she says.

Dr. Hudson said 29 SCHR residents had to receive rabies shots from their physicians in 2007. Seventeen people were immunized because of exposures to bats and four were immunized as a result of bites by dogs that could not be found for the ten-day observation period or for rabies testing.

One dog had not been vaccinated for rabies and the vaccination status for the other three dogs was not known, she says.

In 2007, in SCHR, there was no human exposure to any of the rabies positive animals that CFIA reported.

World Rabies Day is held on Sunday, September 28. Approximately 55,000 people die worldwide from rabies each year. Almost one person dies from rabies every 10 minutes somewhere in the world!

Additional information about rabies is available by calling Public Health Inspections at 842-8618 in Weyburn or 637-3626 in Estevan. Information about World Rabies Day can be found at

FACT SHEET about Rabies

What is rabies?"
 Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system and eventually the brain. It is usually fatal for humans.
 Rabies is spread in the saliva of an animal with rabies.
 Rabies can affect any warm-blooded animal, domestic or wild. It has been found in dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons, skunks, wolves, bats, cattle and horses.
 Rabid animals usually act very differently; for example - they may become aggressive, restless or excitable, appear to have difficulty swallowing or have weakness in their limbs, or lose their appetite or refuse to eat.

How can I prevent rabies?
 Have your animals vaccinated
 Don't go near stray animals
 Keep your pets on a leash
 Report unusual animal behaviour to a veterinarian or animal control
 Consult the Public Health Department when you find a bat in a room where someone has been sleeping

What should you do if you have been bitten?
 Immediately wash the bite wounds with soap and water
 Get medical care immediately after a bite
 Your doctor will report the incident to Public Health.
 The Public Health Inspector will arrange to have the pet confined and observed for 10 days.
 If possible, wild animals will be captured, euthanized and sent for rabies testing after a biting incident.

Media: For more information, please call Dr. Shauna Hudson, SCHR Medical Health Officer, at 530-1859.

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