Skunk tests positive for rabies virus in York Region

Area residents are reminded to avoid approaching or coming into contact with wild or stray animals after a skunk tested positive for the rabies virus in the Township of King.

York Region Public Health is also reminding residents to not keep wild animals as pets in or near their homes and to not allow pets to come into contact with wild or stray animals. This is the second confirmed rabies case in York this year. In February, a bat tested positive for rabies in Markham. That was the first confirmed rabies case in York since 2017. There was no human involvement in either of this year’s cases.

The rabies virus affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded mammals – including humans – and is transmitted through a bite, lick or scratch from an infected animal. Most reported cases involve wild animals such as bats, foxes, raccoons and skunks, but dogs and cats are also at risk.

Infection with the rabies virus is usually always fatal. A post-exposure vaccine is available for people who come into contact with a rabid animal. If you have been bitten, scratched or had contact with an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water for a minimum of 15 minutes, seek medical attention and report the incident to York Region Public Health at 1-800-361-5653.

If a wild animal is found dead, call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry at 1-888-574-6656. If a wild animal is found alive, contact local animal control/pest control and if it’s an emergency, call 911. Avoid moving or trying to relocate any wild or strange animals, especially those that may be behaving strangely.

Ensure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. Check the York Region Events Calendar for low-cost rabies clinics dates and locations. If you suspect your pets or livestock have come in contact with a bat, skunk, raccoon or another wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Take steps to keep wild or stray animals away from your home by storing green bins and garbage containers inside the garage or basement and contacting a professional company to proof your home from nesting wild animals. For more information about rabies control and how to Fight the Bite, visit york.ca/rabies.

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