In Ontario the most common animals to be affected by rabies are bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons. Once signs of rabies appear, in any animal, the disease is fatal.
Dumb rabies causes animals to become depressed and isolate themselves. They may have paralyses causing drooling, drooping head, sagging jaw or strange vocal sounds.
Furious rabies on the other hand causes animals to be extremely excited and aggressive. They may gnaw or bite its own body or limbs and attack other animals for no reason.
If you or someone you know is bitten by an animal or if infectious material (such as saliva) from an animal gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin, wash the area immediately and thoroughly with lots of soap and water. Washing immediately can greatly reduce the risk of infection.
Contact your doctor or your local public health unit immediately, as they can help determine your risk of exposure to rabies. A series of vaccinations and treatment with rabies antibodies can prevent infection in humans in most cases if administered soon after exposure.
Contact your veterinarian for information on when and how often to vaccinate your pets. The first booster vaccine for rabies is always due 12 months after the animal’s initial vaccine (this is called the “primary series”), but after that a rabies vaccine (“booster shot”) is only needed every one to three years, depending on the vaccine used.