Low-cost rabies clinics return to Simcoe County

No clinics in Muskoka due to COVID-19 and additional demands on veterinarians

News Release – from Simcoe County District Health Unit

The annual series of low-cost rabies clinics will be starting next week across Simcoe County. The clinics provide an affordable way to get rabies shots for dogs and cats over three months old.

The first clinic will be held on Wednesday, September 29 in Creemore, with additional clinics in Barrie, Oro-Medonte, Penetanguishene and Tottenham, through to October 30. A schedule of clinics is on the health unit’s website at smdhu.org/rabiesclinics. The number of clinics across the region is reduced this year, with no clinics available in Muskoka, due to COVID-19 and the additional demands on local veterinarians. Low-cost rabies clinics are offered annually by local veterinarians who voluntarily participate in the program.

Each clinic may have special COVID-19 safety measures for attending sites. When attending a clinic, wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands immediately before and after visiting the clinic. If you are ill, do not visit a clinic.

One and three-year vaccines are being offered at clinics, depending on the animal’s vaccination status. Pet owners should speak with their vet to determine when their pet is due for its next rabies vaccination. It helps to bring the previous vaccination certificate to a clinic to make sure which vaccine is best.

“Vaccinating cats and dogs against rabies protects your pet and family, and it’s also the law,” said rabies program coordinator Felicia Ratiu with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “We are grateful for the veterinarians who are generously giving their time to these clinics. Their contribution helps to protect the people and animals living in our communities.”

The clinics typically provide vaccines against rabies to about 4,000 pets annually. Due to COVID-19, fewer clinics were able to run in 2020 when about 1,000 pets were immunized. Anyone unable to attend the limited low-cost clinic locations can contact their local veterinarian to arrange to get their pet vaccinated.

Thanks to vaccination of pets, baiting of wild raccoons, skunks, and foxes and public awareness, Ontario’s incidence of rabies is lower than many other areas in North America.

In addition to the mandatory rabies vaccination, you can help prevent the spread of rabies by not allowing your pets to roam free and keeping them indoors at night. Remind your family to stay away from unfamiliar dogs and cats, as well as all wildlife, including bats.

Rabies is a fatal disease that can spread to humans through the bites or scratches of an infected animal. In 2020, health unit staff investigated 1,515 animal exposure incidents. Many of the investigations resulted in rabies vaccine for people as a precaution.

For more information about the clinics, visit smdhu.org/rabiesclinics or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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