June 18, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The public are reminded to protect themselves against rabies as part of New Brunswick Rabies Awareness Week, June 19-26. Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer of health, issued the reminder today.
Rabies is a viral disease that can affect all mammals, including wild animals, domestic pets and humans.
"It is important to remember that rabies is usually spread by bites from infected animals," said Cleary. "This is why we emphasize public awareness and education for this disease and preventing animal bites. The best way to protect your pet against rabies is to get it vaccinated."
Cleary said that there has never been a case of human rabies in New Brunswick. However, since wild animals, particularly bats, may have the disease, precautions need to be taken. Enjoy wildlife but from a distance. Do not feed or handle wild animals and do not adopt them as pets.
The vast majority of reported cases of rabies 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 and attack people and objects. They may drool a great deal and have difficulty walking, flying, or even moving.
If you are bitten by an animal that may have rabies, wash the area with soap and water for 10 minutes and seek medical attention immediately. 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 have 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."
For more information, call 1-877-372-2437, or visit the Department of Health website.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Additional information on how to protect against rabies follows. MEDIA CONTACT: Danielle Phillips, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3821.
How can you protect yourself against rabies?
Prevent animal bites:
Be a responsible pet owner:
Enjoy wildlife from a distance: