Bats, skunks biggest carriers of rabies last year

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency still tests rabies samples but no longer collects samples or investigates possible cases

Bats were the biggest source of rabies in Canada last year, according to statistics recently posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The animals were responsible for 46 of the 92 cases of rabies reported in Canada last year. Eighteen of the bat cases were in Ontario, while British Columbia and Saskatchewan had nine each, Quebec had six and Alberta four.

Skunks constituted the next highest number, with 22 across Canada. Eleven of those were in Manitoba and 10 in Saskatchewan. The other was in Quebec.

In Nunavut, seven cases were reported in Arctic fox. Two other fox cases were found in the Northwest Territories.

Manitoba reported three cases of rabies in cattle and one horse had the disease in Saskatchewan.

Other cases involved cats, dogs, raccoons and red foxes.

The number of samples per province and territory varied widely, with Ontario leading the pack by a wide margin with 903 samples. Alberta and Saskatchewan submitted 293 and 230 samples, respectively. Quebec provided 147 and all other provinces and territories submitted fewer than 100 samples.

Rabies is a reportable disease in Canada, so the Canadian Food Inspection Agency must be notified of suspect cases.

The viral disease attacks mammals, including humans, and it is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

The CFIA changed some of its activities relating to rabies last year. It still tests all submitted samples, licenses vaccines, provides statistics and reports confirmed cases to the World Organization for Animal Health.

However, it no longer collects samples for testing, investigates or quarantines animals suspected of having rabies and pays an indemnity for livestock that die of it.


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