Rabies Program Adjustments

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As previously announced, effective April 1, 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be adjusting some of its activities related to rabies.

Any incident involving potential human exposure to rabies should continue to be reported to local public health authorities. There is no change to the management of rabies and human health, which will continue to be the responsibility of provincial and territorial health authorities.

Effective April 1, 2014, the CFIA will continue to:

  • perform tests on all human and animal samples submitted for rabies testing;
  • license rabies vaccines;
  • provide rabies statistics;
  • administer certifications for imports and exports; and
  • report confirmed rabies cases to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

However, effective April 1, 2014, the CFIA will no longer:

  • collect and submit samples for rabies testing;
  • investigate or quarantine domestic animals suspected of having rabies; or
  • pay an indemnity for livestock that die due to rabies.

The CFIA remains committed to rabies management in Canada and will continue to play a national and international role for this disease. Over the past two years, the CFIA has been discussing these program changes with provinces and territories at both the health and agricultural levels.

The overall management of rabies is a shared responsibility of the public, the veterinary profession and all levels of government. The public can help reduce the spread of rabies through responsible vaccination of pets and livestock, as well as informing authorities when an animal is suspected of having the disease. Keeping pets under control, teaching children not to play with wild animals or pets they don’t know, keeping a safe distance from wildlife and not trying to raise orphaned or injured wildlife all contribute to preventing the spread of rabies.

The veterinary profession can educate clients regarding the value of vaccinating pets and livestock, and the vaccination requirements for pets travelling to other countries.

Various wildlife departments are involved in vaccinating wildlife species, surveying the extent of wildlife rabies in certain geographic areas, as well as surveying the extent of rabies in certain species.

For more information on rabies management, please contact your local health authority, provincial or territorial government or the CFIA.

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