1. How Rabies is spread
Exposure to rabies is considered to have occurred when:
- An infected animal's teeth penetrate the skin as in a bite;
- The saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue) of an infected animal comes into contact with scratches, abrasions, cuts or mucous membranes (mouth, nose or eyes) of an individual or animal.
2. How you can tell if an animal has Rabies
The effects of the disease in animals vary and can range from depression and paralysis to excitement or aggression.
- Animals may become depressed and 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 difficulty swallowing causing drooling or foaming at the mouth;
- Animals may become excited or aggressive;
- Animals may attack objects or other animals.
3. What you should do if you suspect someone has been exposed to Rabies
Take the following precautionary steps if you suspect someone has been exposed to rabies.
- Flush the wound immediately with copious amounts of soap and water.
- The exposed person should see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will consult with a public health official to determine if preventative treatment is necessary.
- If possible, owners should confine their pet and observe it for changes in behaviour.
- If it is a wild animal, contact a conservation officer for assistance.
4. Rabies prevention
Public health officials investigate all human exposures to domestic or wild animals with suspected or confirmed rabies.
Public Health officials will ask about:
- The events of and leading up to and during the incident;
- The vaccination history of the animal;
- Other details that may help with the risk assessment;
- Other people who may have been exposed to the animal and will investigate each exposure to determine if rabies immunizations are necessary in other situations.
When the animal is a domestic pet, public health officials may advise to observe the animal for 10 days in order to reduce the risk of exposing others.
5. The Saskatchewan Rabies Response Program
To protect the health and safety of Saskatchewan people and domestic animals, 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 the direction from the program's Rabies Risk Assessment Veterinarian (RRAV). In the case of human exposures, the RRAV works closely with local public health to ensure that test results are reported back promptly and to coordinate any response and follow-up activities necessary in the event of a positive rabies test result.