Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of all mammals, including humans. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.
Bats, foxes, dogs and raccoons are of primary concern in Niagara. Small mammals, such as mice, gerbils and hamsters have also been known to transmit rabies. Animals that are rabid will show a variety of signs ranging from withdrawal to aggression.
Health care providers must report animal biting incidents to Niagara Region Public Health for follow-up investigation (O. Reg 558/01).
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
905-688-8248 ext. 7269
After hours: 905-984-3690 or 1-877-552-5579
Rabies is transmitted through infected saliva from bites and scratches. At this point there will be no symptoms of rabies in the person bitten.
When the virus enters the body, it spreads through the nervous system until it reaches the brain. Once in the brain, the virus multiplies quickly and symptoms appear; depending on the distance of virus entry from the brain will determine the length of time that it takes for rabies symptoms to appear.
In some cases, rabies symptoms may not appear for up to six months after the bite. It is never too late to start rabies vaccination following an animal bite.
|Previously unimmunized and immunocompetent||Day 0||Days 0, 3, 7 and 14 (4-dose series)|
|Previously unimmunized and immunocompromised||Day 0||Days 0, 3, 7, 14 and 28 (5-dose series)|
*RIG should be administered in and around the wound (bite, scratch) with the remainder given as a deltoid IM injection on the opposite side from the rabies vaccine.
**Rabies vaccine should be given as an IM deltoid injection.
If your patient has been previously immunized against rabies, two doses of rabies vaccine (days 0 and 3), without RIG, are recommended. Previously immunized individuals include:
A complete course of HDCV or PCECV plus RIG is recommended for those who may have received rabies vaccines in the past but do not fulfill the criteria above. A serum sample may be collected before vaccine is given and if protective antibody (>0.5 IU/mL) is demonstrated the course may be discontinued, provided that at least two (2) doses of vaccine have been given.
For further information, contact Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248 ext. 7590 or 1-888-505-6074.