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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Rabies Vaccines

Rabies is a fatal viral disease, but if the correct actions are taken, it can be prevented with the use of vaccines.

 
Vaccination in Humans

Post-exposure vaccine
If you have been bitten or scratched by a suspected rabid animal

Pre-exposure vaccine
If you do certain kinds of work or activities with a high risk of rabies exposure


Vaccination in Animals
Pets
Owners of cats and dogs three months of age and older are required by law to vaccinate their pets against rabies.
Wildlife
Ontario controls rabies in wildlife by dropping vaccine baits.
 
A picture of a doctor holding a needle full of vaccine
 

Post-exposure Rabies Vaccine

If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal, you may have been informed by a doctor that you are to receive rabies vaccine. If you have been exposed to the rabies virus, it is very important that you receive post-exposure rabies treatment. It includes:

  • Rabies Vaccine
  • Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG)

For more information view:

Vaccinations Schedule for Healthy Individuals

The full series of treatment will consist of four vaccinations over a 14 day period. The schedule to receive the vaccinations will be Day 0 (the first day you start post-exposure rabies treatment), Day 3, Day 7, and Day 14.

Vaccinations Schedule for Immunocompromised Individuals or Individuals on Anti-malarial Drugs

The full series of treatment will consist of five vaccinations over a 28 day period. The schedule to receive the vaccinations will be Day 0 (the first day you start post-exposure rabies treatment), Day 3, Day 7, Day 14, and Day 28.

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Pre-exposure Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is found on all continents except Antarctica.1 In most countries, the risk of rabies is an encounter with an animal.1 Certain areas of the world still have a major problem with rabies in dogs.1 As outlined by the Government of Canada,2 pre-exposure rabies vaccination is usually recommended for those who do certain kinds of work or activities with a high risk of rabies exposure, such as:

  • Spelunkers (cave explorers)
  • Those who routinely work with animals
    • Veterinarians
    • Animal control workers
    • Wildlife workers
    • Hunters and trappers in high-risk areas
  • Laboratory workers who regularly handle rabies specimens / rabies virus, and
  • Travellers to countries endemic for canine-mediated rabies.

For more information about the pre-exposure rabies vaccine, please contact your family doctor or the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Immunization Clinic.

If you are planning a trip, please consult your family doctor. It is recommended that you set an appointment six to eight weeks prior to your departure.

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Rabies Vaccination in Pets

Owners of cats and dogs three months of age and older are required by the Ontario Rabies Immunization Regulation (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 567) to vaccinate their pets against rabies. Please visit your veterinarian to have your pet rabies vaccinated. The Middlesex-London Health Unit, along with partner veterinarians, also offers periodic low-cost rabies vaccination clinics.    

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Rabies Vaccination in Wildlife

Ontario controls rabies in wildlife by dropping baits that contain vaccine in urban, forested and rural agricultural areas.3 Baits are dropped for foxes, raccoons and skunks to eat in areas where rabies has been detected in wildlife in the current or previous year.3 View wildlife vaccine baits for more information.

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Additional Information

To speak to a Public Health Inspector on the Environmental Health Team about rabies, or to report an animal bite/scratch, please call:

  • 519-663-5317
 
Date of creation: March 21, 2014
Last modified on: January 8, 2021
 
 

References

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 29). Information for travelers. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/specific_groups/travelers/index.html
2Government of Canada. (2019, October 9). For health professionals: Rabies. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/rabies/for-health-professionals.html
3Ontario. (2020, December 24). Rabies in wildlife. Retrieved from
https://www.ontario.ca/page/rabies-wildlife