News

Public Health teaming up with local vets to offer low-cost rabies vaccinations'

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

(File photo)

(File photo)

Oxford County will mark World Rabies Day by helping out those in need with low-cost rabies vaccinations.

Public Health will team up again with area veterinarians to vaccinate pets for less than $30 countywide this Saturday.

In 2016, 288 cases of rabies - including two rabid bats in Oxford - were confirmed in Ontario, a dramatic increase from 24 the year before.

Rabies is a potentially deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. Human cases are extremely rare in Ontario, but there has been a resurgence of the disease among wild animals in recent years.

Approximately 700 animals - 500 dogs and 200 cats - are brought in for vaccinations every year, said Elaine Reddick, health protection supervisor with Public Health.

"Rabies is still here in Ontario," she said. "Since about December 2015, there has been a raccoon strain in Ontario, mostly in the Hamilton area, but it's also come over to Brant County and Norfolk County. The Ministry of Natural Resources is vaccinating wildlife with baits and testing animals in Oxford.

"So there hasn't been anything yet," she added. "But obviously with it that close we can certainly assume that there are rabid animals in Oxford ... We know it's here. Rabies is fatal to a pet and is fatal to people. We want to make sure people don't get rabies and one of the ways to do that is to make sure their pets don't get rabies."

Vaccinations will cost $20 to $25 per animal - cash only - and pets attending a clinic must be accompanied by someone 18 or older.

Low-cost rabies shots will be offered at 10 sites Saturday; to find one near you, visit www.oxfordcounty.ca/health.

bchessell@postmedia.com