January 22, 2009

The Regional Municipality of York and area municipalities continue work to help prevent transmission of the rabies virus


NEWMARKET York Regional Council today approved a staff report recommending each of The Regional Municipality of Yorks nine area municipalities to review and consider whether their individual bylaws need to be amended or developed regarding the sale of birds and animals at local flea markets and farmers markets.


Local municipalities are the primary agencies responsible for animal control activities, including kennel, pet shop, breeder, flea market and farmers market licensing and regulating.  They have the ability to reinforce the provincial legislation mandating a rabies vaccination for all dogs and cats over the age of three months, as well as record keeping on the sale and purchase of all animals within their municipalities. 


Routine public health practices in conjunction with up to date records of kennels and animal control activities will definitely help prevent the transmission of the rabies virus, said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.


In 2008, York Region public health inspectors investigated more than 1,100 animal bites or scratches.  Routine public health measures include providing education to the public on the importance of vaccinating pets, co-hosting annual low-cost rabies vaccination clinics, conducting surveillance of rabies in wild animals and investigating all reported animal bites and scratches with human involvement.


Rabies in humans is a rare yet serious concern, said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Regions Medical Officer of Health.  Residents who have been bit or scratched by an animal should immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water, seek prompt medical attention and report the incident to the public health department.



Rabies is a viral infection transmitted in the saliva of infected animals through a bite or a scratch, or if the saliva comes in contact with the moist tissues of the mouth, nose or eyes.  The virus enters the central nervous system of the host, and once symptoms appear it is almost always fatal.  A post-exposure vaccine is available in the event of contact with a rabid animal.


Last year, a rabid litter of puppies was sold at a Toronto flea market, which led to a large multi-agency and multi-health unit investigation into the potential human exposure to the rabies virus.


To report an animal bite or for more information on this or any other health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.


For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca


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Media Contact:         Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region

                                 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905 251-5553

                                 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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