Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 28, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavut stresses prevention on World Rabies Day, Sept. 28

Vaccinate pets, teach kids to avoid unfamiliar animals

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Foxes, like this one seen near Cambridge Bay, can carry the rabies virus. To keep your pets rabies-free, make sure they get free vaccinations. (FILE PHOTO)
Foxes, like this one seen near Cambridge Bay, can carry the rabies virus. To keep your pets rabies-free, make sure they get free vaccinations. (FILE PHOTO)

On Sept. 28, World Rabies Day, the Government of Nunavut is urging Nunavummiut to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting their pets vaccinated.

Rabies, a deadly virus that can infect animals and humans, affects the central nervous system, causing a disease in the brain which can prove fatal.

Early symptoms of rabies include fever, headache and general weakness. If rabies progresses untreated, it can cause insomnia, anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, hallucinations, an increase in saliva and difficulty swallowing.

Death will often occur within days of the onset of those symptoms.

But the disease can be prevented by a vaccine, first developed by Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and micro-biologist whose death on Sept. 28, 1895 is remembered by World Rabies Day, if administered within a few days of an animal bite.

Pets can now also be protected against rabies by a vaccine.

Many animals carry rabies, including dogs, foxes, wolves and wolverines. The virus is spread when an infected animal bites, scratches, or licks an open wound.

Children are most likely to get bitten, so the GN suggests that parents and guardians can help teach their children to:

• only trust an animal that you are familiar with and always watch its behavior; and,

• respect an animal’s space, especially while it’s sleeping, eating or caring for its young.

To prevent rabies you should get your pets vaccinated regularly by lay vaccinators—“It’s free,” the GN says.

You should also keep pets indoors or on a leash.

And, if your dog is bitten by an animal, call your regional environment health officer or local bylaw officer for instructions.

Earlier this year, several Nunavut communities reported cases of rabies, which are also often carried by foxes.

You should also contact your local health centre immediately if you think you have been exposed to rabies.

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