Report an incident
If a wild animal is suspected of carrying rabies, the incident should be reported to your local conservation officer.
Call the Ministry of Environment's toll-free line at 1-800-667-7561.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health deals with human exposure to potential rabies cases as per their normal procedures. If someone has been exposed to an animal that is suspected of carrying rabies, they should contact the local public health office or the Saskatchewan HealthLine by dialing 811.
If this incident resulted in an animal bite, the affected area should be washed immediately with soap and warm water. The exposed person should see their family doctor or local emergency room department as soon as possible. The doctor will consult with a local public health official to see if preventative treatment is necessary.
The Rabies Response Program
To protect the health and safety of the Saskatchewan human and domestic animal populations, a provincial rabies response program has been developed. Private veterinarians across the province will collect samples from suspect animals and submit these for rabies testing under direction from the program's Rabies Risk Assessment Veterinarian (RRAV). Test results will be reported back to the submitting veterinarian and to the RRAV, who will ensure that test results are further distributed to all relevant parties. The RRAV will also coordinate any response and follow-up activities necessary in the event of a positive rabies test result.
Rabies hotline: 1-844-7-RABIES (1-844-772-2437)
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of mammals. In Canada, rabies is most often found in bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons. In Saskatchewan, rabies is most often found in skunks and, to a lesser extent, bats.
Rabies may infect domestic animals and can also affect humans. Most instances of rabies prove to be fatal unless proper steps are taken. In humans exposed to rabies, development of clinical rabies can be prevented through urgent assessment, proper wound management and, if indicated, post exposure vaccination.
Strains of Rabies
There are four different strains of rabies in Canada differentiated by their carrier species. All strains are equally capable of causing rabies in other animals. The four strains include:
- Arctic fox rabies
- Skunk rabies
- Raccoon rabies
- Bat rabies
Signs of Rabies in Animals
The effects of the disease can appear differently: "dumb presentation" (acting depressed or lame), "furious presentation" (showing excitement or aggression) or a combination of the two. The presence of abnormal behaviour is the key feature in an animal with rabies. For example:
- Domestic animals may become depressed and try to hide in isolated places.
- Wild animals may lose their fear of humans and appear unusually friendly.
- Wild animals that usually come out at night may be out during the day.
- Animals may have paralysis which commonly affects the face or neck, often seen as difficulty swallowing.
- Animals may become excited or aggressive.
- Animals may attack objects or other animals.
Preventing the Spread of Rabies
Have your veterinarian vaccinate your pets and select livestock. Your veterinarian will advise you on the frequency of vaccination.
Observe all wild animals from a distance. A rabid wild animal may appear tame, but don't go near it. Teach children NEVER to handle wild or stray animals, or animals they do not know – even if they appear friendly. Never keep wild animals as pets. Wild animals pose a potential rabies threat to caretakers and to others. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, contact your local conservation officer or municipal animal control office to report it.
How is Rabies Transmitted?
Rabies is spread when an animal or human is bitten or scratched by an infected animal. Exposure to rabies is classified into three different categories:
- Category I – touching or feeding animals, licks on the skin;
- Category II – nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding, licks on broken skin; and
- Category III – single or multiple bites or scratches that break the skin, contamination of mucous membrane (i.e. mouth, eyes, nose) with saliva from licks; any bat bites or scratches.
Report the incident to your regional public health office or the Saskatchewan Health Line (811).
If a domestic animal, such as a cat, a dog or livestock, is involved, do not destroy the animal. Make sure the animal is kept in a controlled environment (i.e. kennel or pen) until the incident has been fully investigated. Wild animals should be destroyed and submitted for testing. If possible, avoid damaging the head since the brain is needed for testing.
The incident will be investigated by a public health official to determine the level of risk of rabies.
If You See a Bat Inside Your Home
If you think you were exposed to a bat through a bite or scratch, or if it is found in a room with small children, contact your regional public health office for advice. If the bat is in your home and you are not sure if someone was exposed to it, you can contact a pest control company or have a responsible person safely catch the bat for testing.
Once safely caught, the bat should be tested. If you are confident no human or pet was exposed, close all windows in the room except those leading outside. The bat usually leaves on its own.
If a Bite Occurs
- The area should be immediately washed with soap and warm water.
- The exposed person should see their family doctor or local emergency room department as soon as possible
- Doctors will consult with a local public health official to see if preventative treatment is necessary.
If You Suspect an Animal Is Rabid
Wild animals: avoid contact; if the animal has been in contact with or bitten your pet or livestock, it should be destroyed and submitted for testing.
Domestic animals: avoid unnecessary contact with the animal; if you must handle it, use protection (i.e. gloves, physical barriers) and seek veterinary assistance.
If the animal dies, submit it for testing.
Anyone with Category II or III exposure to an animal suspected of carrying rabies should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
For more information on rabies:
- Contact your local veterinarian;
- Contact the provincial rabies hotline at 1-844-772-2437;
- Contact the Saskatchewan HealthLine (811)
To report a wild animal suspected of carrying rabies:
Contact your local conservation officer toll free at 1-800-667-7561.
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