Durham Region Notice: Health Department reminds residents to avoid wild animals to help prevent exposure to rabies


Durham Region Health Department is reminding area residents to be aware and stay away from wild animals such as coyotes, raccoons, and foxes, as these animals are common carriers of the rabies virus. Over the past few weeks, Durham Region has seen an increase in animal bites involving wild animals and last week alone, there were two animal bites involving coyotes. Both victims are now receiving treatment for potential rabies exposure.

Rabies is caused by a virus that is spread between animals and to humans through a bite, scratch or contact with saliva of an infected animal. If left untreated, rabies is a fatal disease. “Incidents such as these are very unfortunate,” said Dr. Pepi McTavish, Durham Region Associate Medical Officer of Health. “It is very important for residents to remain vigilant and avoid interactions with wild animals, even if the animals appear sick or injured.”

The Health Department encourages everyone to take the following precautions to help protect your family and pets from rabies:

  • Avoid all wild, stray, sick or injured animals including, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and bats.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch for wild animals when visiting parks, greenspaces, ravines, and other outdoor areas.
  • Supervise children and pets when visiting outdoor spaces and ensure they stay away from wild and unknown animals.
  • Do not handle or feed wild animals.
  • Do not touch sick or injured animals.
  • Keep your pet on a leash when visiting outdoor areas.

If you or a member of your family is bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal, you should:

  • Immediately wash the affected area(s) thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Seek further medical attention from a health care provider.
  • Immediately notify the Health Department to report the bite or scratch by calling 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729. If calling after 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday or on weekends, please call 905-576-9991.

For more information on rabies awareness, call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729, or visit durham.ca/rabies.

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