Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal[1]. The virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Transmission has been rarely documented via other routes such as contamination of mucous membranes (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth), aerosol transmission, and corneal and organ transplantations.[2] In Ontario, the most common animals to carry the rabies virus are bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes.


In humans, symptoms of rabies most often take 3 to 8 weeks to develop, but in rare cases can range from a few days to several years depending on the severity and proximity of the wound to the brain[3]. Early symptoms of rabies may be flu-like with fever, chills, and headache; symptoms will become worse as the virus affects the nervous system.[4] If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus, please contact your health care provider.

Local Statistics

In 2021 - 1 positive bat (Town of Hanover)

In 2020 - to date 3 positive bats (Town of Blue Mountains (1), and Municipality of Brockton (2))

In 2019 - no reported cases

In 2018 - 1 positive bat (Municipality of Georgian Bluffs)

In 2017 – 4 positive bats (Municipality of Georgian Bluffs, Township of Chatsworth, Saugeen Shores, and Municipality of Arran-Elderslie)


For more information, please see:


Many agencies play a role in the rabies response and prevention:

Grey Bruce Health Unit: investigates suspected rabies exposure incidents (e.g., animal bites or scratches) involving humans to determine the risk of exposure to rabies and if there is a need for treatment (e.g., vaccine).

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry: controls rabies in wildlife by dropping baits that contain vaccine in urban, forested and rural agricultural areas. 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.


 Rabies Reporter (July-December 2020)

 Rabies Reporter 2017


Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians – Rabies Response Program (OAVT RRP): provides the service of specimen collection and shipping to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) laboratories for rabies testing. These specimens are from cases involving potential human exposure to rabies caused by animals. Animal specimens tested include wildlife, livestock, companion animals and zoo animals.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA): investigates suspected rabies exposure incidents (e.g., animal bites or scratches) involving domestic pets and livestock.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): receives all suspected cases of rabies are verified (tested) in a CFIA rabies laboratory.

Canadian Wildlife Health Co-Operative (CWHC): provides expertise in wildlife disease diagnostics, contributes to Canada's national wildlife health surveillance program, provides educational programs, information, and consultation to government and non-government agencies, and participates in research and wildlife health management activities. The CWHC can be contacted if you find a sick/dead bat with no known human or animal contact.


Travelling abroad:

World Health Organization Rabies risk map link:

World Health Organization - Rabies Risk Map


[1] CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies. (September 24, 2018). Retrieved from:  https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

[2] CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How is Rabies Transmitted? (April 22, 2011). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/transmission/index.html

[3] Public Health Ontario. Rabies. (September 21, 2018). Retrieved from: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/InfectiousDiseases/Pages/IDLandingPages/Rabies.aspx

[4] Government of Canada. Symptoms of Rabies. (February 14, 2018). Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/rabies/symptoms.html



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