The Saskatchewan government has put out a public notice to provincial residents about the threat posed by rabies.
According to the release, the disease is present across much of the province, after a number of cases were detected in domestic animals over the last few months.
18 cases were confirmed from January 1, 2016, to July 13, 2016, which was in contrast to nine cases in the same period of time in 2015, and seven cases in 2014. The cases in 2016 include seven in June and three in July, with four cases of domestic animals involving a cow, a cat, a baby lamb, and a baby goat. Eight cases in skunks and six cases in bats were also confirmed.
The notice indicated that the best defense against rabies is vaccination. The public are encouraged to contact their vets and set up appointments for vaccination appointments, as all cats, dogs, ferrets, and certain livestock should get shots against the disease. A watchful eye on domestic animals and wildlife for signs of the disease should also be kept up.
These signs include:
- Domestic animals may become depressed and try to hide in isolated places;
- Wild animals may lose their fear of humans and appear unusually friendly;
- Wild animals that usually come out at night may be out during the day;
- Animals may have paralysis which commonly affects the face or neck often seen as difficulty swallowing;
- Animals may become excited or aggressive; and
- Animals may attack objects, people or other animals.
If a human is exposed to the disease, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health will step in with normal procedures. Questions on exposure should be sent to the local public health office or the Saskatchewan Healthline by dialing 811.
If this incident resulted in an animal bite, the affected area should be washed immediately with soap and warm water. The exposed person should see their family doctor or local emergency room department as soon as possible. The doctor will consult with a local public health official to see if preventative treatment is necessary.