Bats spread most rabies cases in 2020

The vast majority of rabies cases, 75, occurred in bats. Another 15 were discovered in skunks and four or fewer cases were reported in raccoons, dogs, bovines, arctic and red foxes and cats. | cwf-fcf.org photo

Canada had 104 cases of rabies in 2020. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently released the annual figures, which it tracks because rabies is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act.

That means all suspect cases must be reported to the agency, where they can be verified in a CFIA laboratory.

The vast majority of cases, 75, occurred in bats. Another 15 were discovered in skunks and four or fewer cases were reported in raccoons, dogs, bovines, arctic and red foxes and cats.

Ontario reported the highest number of cases among all provinces at 49, with 39 of those in bats, seven in skunks and three in raccoons.

British Columbia followed in terms of numbers, with 17, all of them in bats. Saskatchewan reported 10 cases, eight of them in bats, followed by Manitoba with 12 cases (seven in skunks) and Alberta with four cases, all of them in bats.

“Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Once clinical signs appear, rabies is almost always fatal in animals and people,” the CFIA said in its report.

Its data shows most cases are reported in the summer months.

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