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Rabies confirmed in Hamilton cat, marks city's first case in decades

The rabid cat found in Haldimand-Norfolk last week did in fact come from rural Ancaster, the city confirmed Monday, marking Hamilton's first case of domestic rabies in over two decades.

Over 100 rabid animals have been found in the area, including raccoons, skunks and bats

Officials are investigating Hamilton's first case of domestic rabies in over 20 years. (The Canadian Press)

The rabid cat found in Haldimand-Norfolk last week did in fact come from rural Ancaster, the city confirmed Monday, marking Hamilton's first case of domestic rabies in over two decades.

"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed today that this cat was infected with the raccoon rabies strain," city spokesperson Aisling Higgins said in a statement.

"During the course of the investigation fewer than five people have been identified in Hamilton as having had exposure to the rabid cat."

After years without a case in Ontario, rabies has pushed back into the area in a big way this year. Over 100 rabid animals have been found, including raccoons, skunks and bats.

The city says it is working with animal services and several provincial agencies to address the viral illness and minimize its risk to humans.

"This serves as an excellent reminder for people to make sure their pets are up to date on their vaccinations," Higgins said. "It also reminds us to always keep a safe distance from wild animals and seemingly domestic animals that we don't know.

"Anyone who is bitten, scratched or has contact with the saliva of an animal should immediately wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention as rabies post-exposure vaccine may be needed."

The city offers the following measures to protect families and pets from rabies:

  • Always keep a safe distance from wild and unknown animals. Rabies can make animals aggressive or it can make them appear sick, scared, or friendly.
  • Avoid contact with live or dead animals including raccoons, skunks, other land animals and bats, and unknown dogs and cats. Do not feed, help, or relocate any wildlife or keep them as pets.
  • Keep your pets supervised.
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies, and keep rabies vaccinations current for dogs and cats to protect them, and prevent any spread to people. Visit our website for information on low cost rabies vaccine clinics.
  • Report animal bites and scratches to public health by calling 905-546-2489. Wash wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention.
  • If you see sick, injured or strange behaving wildlife report it to City of Hamilton Animal Services 905-546-2489.

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