Niagara Public Health Warns Public After Skunk in St. Catharines tested positive for rabies

Public health officials in the Niagara region are urging people to stay away from wildlife, especially those who appear to be in need after a skunk in St. Louis. Catharines tested positive for rabies.

Niagara Region Public Health (NRPH) urges residents to protect themselves from rabies by ensuring their dogs and cats have up-to-date rabies vaccines, not allowing them to roam on a leash and unattended, avoiding all contact with wildlife, and reporting of any wildlife exhibiting abnormal behavior, especially raccoons, to local animal control services.

All incidents where a wild animal bites or scratches a human must also be reported to NRPH at 905-688-8248, ext. 7590 or toll free 1-888-505-6074 as an animal infected with rabies may not show symptoms. The health unit is at all times ready to receive calls about animal bites.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, together with local SPCAs and Humane Societies, continues to carry out increased monitoring activities for animals with rabies, the NRPH said in a press release on 20 June.

So far this year, five skunks in Niagara have contracted the deadly virus, which can spread to humans through saliva from infected animals. Last year, 14 animals – 12 skunks and two raccoons – got rabies in that region.

Rabies, which can be fatal to humans, typically produces flu-like symptoms. From there, the infected may experience fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, confusion, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, hallucinations, insomnia and even partial paralysis. Anyone who suspects they have been bitten by a wild animal is encouraged to seek medical attention immediately.

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