A raccoon in an urban area of Port Colborne has tested positive for rabies. Since December 2015, there have been 16 animals with raccoon strain rabies in Niagara, however this is the first in the Port Colborne area.
Niagara Region has issued a media release advising residents of the precautions they should take to protect themselves from rabies. Detailed information can be found on their website at www.niagararegion.ca. Mayor Maloney stated that "it is essential that citizens follow the measures issued by Public Health and take extra precautions with our children."
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has instituted a rapid response to the situation and two employees of the ministry will be in Port Colborne on Thursday, April 6th to distribute by hand approximately 1,000 baits containing an oral rabies vaccine. There is currently one type of vaccine bait used to vaccinate wildlife in Ontario, the Ultra-lite containing ONRAB®. ONRAB® is used in Ontario to control both fox and raccoon strains of rabies. Exposure to the bait is not harmful to people or pets; however, in the unlikely event that people or pets come in contact with the vaccine contained in the bait, contacting a doctor or veterinarian as a precaution is recommended. The bait formula coats the blister pack containing the vaccine. This formula consists of vegetable based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavour and dark-green food grade fat-soluble dye.
The drop area will be Neff Street to the north, Lake Erie to the south, west to Rosemount Avenue and east to Humboldt Parkway. The ministry employees will be in a clearly marked government of Ontario vehicle and carrying government identification. Residents are encouraged to talk with their family members and advise them that if they see the vaccines, to leave them in place so they are available for wildlife.
Port Colborne residents should report wild animals exhibiting abnormal behaviour (particularly raccoons) to the Welland SPCA at 905-735-1552.