Prevention is always the best way to handle rabies
Prevention is always the best medicine. That applies to rabies, a disease that sporadically becomes problematic.
Rabies is a viral disease that can attack the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Even though rabies is usually found in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks, household pets also provide a link for the transmission of rabies to humans. Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.
Animals with rabies may show a variety of clinical signs. The disease can appear in two forms: Dumb rabies and furious rabies.
With dumb rabies, 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 only come out at night may be out during the day. Animals may have paralysis. Areas most commonly affected are the face or neck (which causes abnormal facial expressions or drooling) or the hind legs.
With furious rabies, animals may become very excited and aggressive. Periods of excitement usually alternate with periods of depression. Animals may attack objects or other animals. They may even bite or chew their own limbs.
How is rabies spread?
Rabies is transmitted through saliva – primarily via bite wounds. It can also be spread when infected saliva comes into contact with a scratch, open wound or the mucous membrane, such as those in the mouth, nasal cavity or eyes.
When the virus enters an animal’s body, it spreads through the nerves to the brain, where it multiplies quickly. The virus then moves to the salivary glands and other parts of the body.
Preventing human illness
If treatment is given promptly after being exposed to or bitten by an animal that could have rabies, human illness can be prevented. The following actions are recommended: Immediately wash the wound or exposed surface with soap and water. Remove any clothing that may have been contaminated. Seek medical advice as soon as possible. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is responsible for investigating reports of animal bites and suspicious direct human contacts with animals or bats that have occurred in the five Eastern Counties. All animal bites to humans must be reported to the EOHU by calling 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120.
When the EOHU investigates a bite or a suspicious direct contact involving a dog, cat or ferret, we ask that the animal be confined for 10 days. If the animal is well at the end of the 10 days, it may be released.
Preventing the spread of rabies
There are some simple ways that you can help prevent the spread of rabies.
Vaccinate pets against rabies as recommended by your veterinarian. Don’t let pets roam free. Avoid wild or domestic animals that are behaving strangely.
Don’t try to help an injured animal. Contact animal control or a professional for help.
Keep a safe distance from wild animals, even if they look healthy. Do not attempt to raise orphaned wild animals. Attempt to keep bats from getting inside your home. Teach children not to touch wild animals or pets they don’t know.
The incubation period is the amount of time it takes from when you are first infected to when you begin developing symptoms. For rabies, the incubation period may range from two weeks to many months, depending on the strain of rabies and the location of the bite.
However, it’s important to be aware that an animal can transmit the disease several days before showing clinical signs.
Like all runners, Bob Hardy strives to qualify for the Boston Marathon, the penultimate prize for distance competitors.
Unlike many, however, the 67-year-old Alexandria cancer survivor is hoping to achieve a Boston qualifying time with the help of a walker.
If his plan works out, by this time next year, Mr. Hardy will be able to cover the 42-kilometre distance in a time of four hours, ten minutes, the standard he needs to qualify for the legendary race in the 65 to 69 age category.
The walker runner finished the 2018 Ottawa marathon in 5 hours, 26 minutes, 58 seconds, 33 minutes faster than 2017. He is determined to shave one hour from his personal best when he competes in Toronto and Ottawa races this year.
Now his immediate schedule includes the June 10 Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Tim Hortons Dome in Alexandria, where he will participate alongside ultra marathoner David Merpaw.
Mr. Hardy’s objective is to roll the 10-kilometre course in one hour, or less. His last best time at the Dome was one hour, two minutes.
“I am inviting guest runners to join me at 10 a.m.,” he explains, while the main starts at 1 p.m.
“Bring money (for the Alzheimer Society), running shoes and suitable clothes,” he advises. “We are inviting people to come and see what we are doing.”
As he attains his personal goals, Mr. Hardy believes he is also destigmatizing a device that many people now, or will eventually, use. “A walker is cool,” he remarks.
Future races include half-marathon in Pointe-Claire, Lachine and Ottawa, leading to the October 21 Toronto Waterfront full, 42.2-km. marathon.
“I have to get over the fact that my Ottawa Marathon was another record time for me,” says Mr. Hardy.
People wishing to support him during his fund-raising runs can call 613-361-0504.