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Enteric, Zoonotic and Vector-Borne Diseases

Rabies is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Rabies is most commonly transmitted to humans via saliva from the bite of an infected animal. Symptoms of rabies most often take 3 to 8 weeks to develop, but in rare cases can range from a few days to several years depending on the severity and proximity of the wound to the brain. Initial symptoms of rabies include headache, fever and malaise. In more advanced stages, symptoms may include spasms, delirium, convulsions and muscle paralysis. Except in exceedingly rare cases, rabies is always fatal once an individual begins exhibiting symptoms.  

In Ontario and Canada, human rabies cases are rare. Rabid animals most frequently detected in Canada include bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons.

Following potential exposure to a rabid animal, individuals should thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water, and seek immediate medical attention. Post-exposure prophylaxis (i.e., rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin) given as soon as possible is highly effective in preventing infection.

Page last reviewed:
Page last updated: 2018-09-21 11:42 AM
Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 2018-09-21 11:42 AM
© , Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion