Alberta Health Services Medical Officer Dr. David Strong has urged the public to take precautions after a Calgary-area puppy was diagnosed with rabies. The five-month-old puppy came from Nunavut and had not been vaccinated against rabies. All those with whom the puppy had contact have been assessed and it doesn’t sound like anyone required post-exposure treatment.
Since rabies is endemic in wildlife in the region, finding rabies in a puppy (especially when the puppy was presumably exposed elsewhere) doesn’t mean that there’s any greater risk to the public than there was before the case was identified. The imminent concern is the presumably limited number of people and animals with which the puppy had contact while it may have been infectious, but it’s always useful to remind people about rabies and precautions they should take to prevent rabies exposure. In the infectious disease world, we often have to take advantage of high profile incidents to drive home some basic principles that we’d like people to pay attention to all the time.
Key rabies prevention points include:
- Avoid contact with wildlife.
- Keep your pets away from wildlife.
- Ensure your pets are up-to-date with their rabies vaccination.
- Make sure any bites from wild or domestic mammals are reported to public health so that it can be determined whether rabies post-exposure treatment is required.
Pretty basic. Common sense goes a long way with infectious disease prevention.