eastern niagNiagaraThisWeek

Last year, regional staff said aggressive baiting by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources with treats containing vaccine has seen the raccoon rabies strain, circulating in Ontario from 1999 to 2005, beaten down: there hasn’t been a reported case in the province for six years.

Niagara’s public health department investigated 1,094 cases of animal-human interactions such as someone getting bitten or scratched last year. That resulted in 80 people having to undergo rabies vaccine shots.

In Niagara, the natural resources ministry conducts an aerial drop of vaccine-laced baits between the Niagara River and the Welland Canal each year. Jekel and Christensen said that’s created a buffer of rabies-free raccoons between Niagara the Western New York.

But Jekel and Christensen said just across the river it’s a different story, with raccoon rabies common in New York State.

eastern niagNiagaraThisWeek,While the raccoon rabies strain is considered eradicated in Niagara and the rest of Ontario, the Region’s public health department will once again be aggressively working this year to ensure people in the peninsula aren’t infected with the potentially deadly virus.

On the watch for rabies. Aggressive aerial baiting has created a buffer of raccoons in eastern Niagara immunized against rabies. THIS WEEK FILE PHOTO

In each of the last two years, one bat has tested positive for rabies in Niagara, the new report said.

In the regional report last year, staff said Ontario’s rabies control program has been wildly successful since its inception about 50 years ago. Where once there were about 1,500 cases of animal rabies a year from the time the virus becameastern niagNiagaraThisWeeke eastern niagara health systemestablished in the province a half century ago, last year there were only 39 confirmed cases of rabies in Ontario, according to the Rabies Reporter, a quarterly publication by the natural resources ministry and partners.

In 2010, it was also the first time in 50 years that there were no confirmed rabies cases in pets or livestock in Ontario, the Rabies Reporter said.

Rabies attacks the central nervous system. Left untreated, it is tal. The Region has a policy of investigating any potential bites or scratches within 24 hours.

In a report to regional politicians on May 17, Peter Jekel, a manager of environmental health, in conjunction with Bjorn Christensen, director of environmental health, said the public health department is committed to keeping the incidence of rabies in people at zero.

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