82 rabid animals found in first half of 2017
Published Friday, July 28, 2017 5:34PM EDT
An outbreak of rabies that has seen hundreds of animals in southern Ontario diagnosed with the virus may be starting to slow its spread, new data suggests.
The outbreak began in December 2015, when a rabid raccoon got into a fight with two dogs in the back on an animal control van in Hamilton.
Most cases of rabies diagnosed in the province since then have been in and around Hamilton, including in Brant County and Caledonia.
There have also been several cases of fox-strain rabies in an area stretching from Wallenstein to Blyth. Those cases are considered separate from the outbreak of raccoon-strain rabies in the Hamilton area.
Data released Friday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows that 18 lab-confirmed cases of rabies were found in Ontario in June, bringing the total to 82 through the first half of 2017.
By way of comparison, there were 134 positive tests for rabies in the first half of 2016. The only rabid animals found in Ontario in the first six months of 2015 were six bats.
The 18 cases in June include 12 raccoons, five skunks and one bat. The bat was found in the Paisley area, north of Walkerton.
The province has launched a rabies baiting campaign, in which large numbers of packets containing the rabies vaccine are being left in treed and forested areas around southern Ontario.
Nearly one million packets were delivered as part of a similar campaign last year.