The management of suspected rabies exposures involves a number of considerations, including the type of animal involved in the exposure, the details of the exposure incident, and the knowledge of animal rabies in the geographic area where the exposure occurred. The Grey Bruce Health Unit will conduct a risk assessment on all individuals who have had a suspected rabies exposure. While the ultimate decision to administer rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccine) rests with the health care provider, the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s risk assessment provides valuable information to help determine appropriate management of suspected rabies exposures.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit does not provide pre-exposure rabies vaccine.
Pre-exposure rabies immunization is given to individuals with a higher risk of exposure to rabid animals or the rabies virus (e.g., occupation exposure to animals; lab workers that handle the rabies virus; certain travellers; hunters, trappers, or spelunkers in high risk areas)
You can get pre-exposure rabies vaccine:
- with a prescription from your health care provider, who will administer the vaccine, or
- from a travel clinic. Refer to Public Health Agency of Canada for a list of travel clinics.
For more information, please refer to the Canadian Immunization Guide.
If you believe you have been exposed to the rabies virus, please contact your health care provider. Information provided by the Grey Bruce Health Unit may provide valuable information to your health care provider on the risk assessment to determine the appropriate management of suspected rabies exposures but the ultimate decision to administer rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccine) rests with the health care provider.
As a health care provider, you must notify the medical officer of health whenever a person has had contact with a mammal that is conducive to the potential transmission of rabies to a person.
Health Care Providers can request post-exposure prophylaxis (rabies vaccine) from the Grey Bruce Health Unit. To request vaccine, please complete the Human Rabies Vaccine Request Form.
Human Rabies Vaccine Request Form
- In a previously unvaccinated person: rabies immune globulin on the first day of the post-exposure prophylaxis (day 0) and rabies vaccine on Days 0, 3, 7, and 14. In those who are immunocompromised or taking antimalarial drugs, an additional dose is provided on Day 28.
- In a person who was previously and appropriately vaccinated against rabies: only two dose of rabies vaccine are required which are given on Days 0 and 3. No rabies immune globulin is required.
For more information:
In Ontario, R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 567 Rabies Immunization requires:
1. Every owner or person having the care or custody of a cat, dog or ferret three months of age or over shall ensure that the cat, dog or ferret is immunized against rabies. O. Reg. 497/17, s. 1.
2.1 Every owner or person having the care or custody of a horse, cow, bull, steer, calf or sheep shall ensure that each such animal is immunized against rabies. O. Reg. 497/17, s. 1; O. Reg. 510/18, s. 1 (1).
2.2 Subsection (1) does not apply to a horse, cow, bull, steer, calf or sheep,
(a) where the animal is accessible only to the person or persons who are responsible for the care and control of such animal; or
(b) where the only time the animal is accessible by persons other than the persons described in clause (a) is when the animal is at a seasonal agricultural fair including those held by an agricultural society constituted under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act, unless the animal is part of an interactive display such as a petting zoo. O. Reg. 510/18, s. 1 (2)
Rabies vaccine for cats, dogs, and ferrets is available at veterinarian offices or rabies vaccine clinics.
A fine (ticket) may be issued to the owner or person in care for the animal for failing to immunize against rabies. The fine amount is $220. If you cannot afford the rabies vaccine for your pet, (e.g., cat, dog, or ferret), please contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit to inquire about a voucher for a low cost vaccine.