June 12, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswickers are reminded by Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer of health, that as part of New Brunswick Rabies Awareness Week, June 12-19, they should take preventive measures to protect themselves against rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, including wild animals, domestic pets and humans.
"It is important for New Brunswickers to remember that rabies is not only a disease affecting animals, but also humans," said Cleary. "This is why we emphasize public awareness and education for this disease. The best way to avoid having a pet contract rabies is to get it vaccinated against this disease."
Cleary said that there has never been a case of human rabies in New Brunswick, but it cannot be ignored that wild animals, particularly bats, may have the disease, so precautions need to be taken.
Rabies is most commonly spread by bites from infected animals. The vast majority of reported cases have come from wild animals, including raccoons, skunks and bats. Animals with rabies may have unusual behaviour. They may be tame and friendly, or be very aggressive, attacking people and objects. They may drool a great deal and have difficulty walking, or even moving.
According to Cleary, if you are bitten by an animal that may have rabies, it is best to:
A doctor will assess the risk and determine if preventive treatment is necessary. Treatment for rabies includes treating the wound and a series of vaccines. Without treatment, rabies is fatal.
"This is why we've placed such a strong emphasis on public awareness to protect New Brunswickers from this serious disease," Cleary said. "Prevention is the key to avoiding rabies."
More information about rabies may be found online.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Additional information follows. MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.
How can you protect yourself against rabies?
Prevent animal bites
Be a responsible pet owner
Enjoy wildlife from a distance
For more information, call 1-877-372-2437, or visit the Department of Health website.