Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 28, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Cases of rabies confirmed in Cambridge Bay

Residents encouraged to get their dogs vaccinated

SARAH ROGERS
A Quebec veterinarian vaccinates a dog in Kuujjuaq last spring. In Cambridge Bay, the hamlet's by-law officer can vaccinate dogs free of charge. (FILE PHOTO)
A Quebec veterinarian vaccinates a dog in Kuujjuaq last spring. In Cambridge Bay, the hamlet's by-law officer can vaccinate dogs free of charge. (FILE PHOTO)

Hamlet officials in Cambridge Bay have confirmed at least two cases of rabies found in dogs in the Kitikmeot community over the last week.

Some unvaccinated dogs in the community were confirmed to have been infected with rabies, likely caught after they came into contact with rabid foxes. In order to have a confirmed case of rabies the hamlet must first euthanize a sick dog and then send its body south for testing.

The hamlet’s senior administrative officer, Stephen King, said residents have been notified and dog owners have been encouraged to get their animals vaccinated.

“Cases where rabies is spread from foxes to dogs usually comes down to an unlicensed and unvaccinated dog,” he said. “No doubt unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs are a safety risk.  It is very important for dog owners to get their dog licensed and vaccinated.”

Rabies, a potentially fatal viral disease that spreads from the bite of a rabid animal to another animal or human, affects the central nervous system. It’s a disease found mostly in foxes and wolves in Nunavut and most often transmitted by bites from infected animals.

In Cambridge Bay, free rabies vaccinations are available from the community’s by-law officer.  Dog owners are required to prove their dog has a rabies vaccination or to have it vaccinated to get a dog license, King said.

But, he added, the latest cases of the virus should not alarm anyone.

“There have been a couple of confirmed cases of rabies,” King said. “Nothing out of the ordinary and not nearly as much as last year.”

Last spring, there was an increase in the number of rabid foxes near Cambridge Bay.

When a handful of dogs tied-up in the community were found strangled on their chains, officials determined it was likely because they become infected with the disease.

Animals with rabies can appear nervous, agitated or aggressive and may be foaming at the mouth.

Residents should stay away from animals showing those symptoms, as well as from any foxes near the community and call their local wildlife officer or hamlet by-law officer.

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