The number of raccoon rabies cases in Hamilton has nearly doubled since the start of January. That brings the total number of cases found in Hamilton since December to 21. Haldimand County now has four cases.
The latest cases, reported online Jan. 26, were found across Hamilton, including in upper and lower Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Glanbrook and the east lower city
The rabies outbreak in Hamilton goes back to early December, when a captured raccoon in an animal services truck got into a skirmish with two bullmastiffs. Those dogs were put into quarantine, where they remain.
No humans have been infected during the rabies outbreak.
The new cases aren’t a surprise to Hamilton’s public health department, said Susan Harding-Cruz, manager of the vector borne disease program.
“We expected to see more positive cases. We’re not alarmed,” she said.
As far as the Ministry of Natural Resources is concerned, the cases were found in “a nice tight area” in the middle of the wide swath of geography that was flooded with 220,000 vaccine baits last year.
Chris Davies, provincial point person in the fight against the rabies outbreak said he’d be more concerned if new cases were showing up in a broader surveillance area stretching from Niagara to beyond Stratford.
“We’re still doing sample tests in those areas, because we want to know: did we miss places where this disease is?” he said. “So far, we haven’t seen that.”
No additional baiting is happening now with animals expected to den during the winter, he said. But additional bait distribution is possible in the spring.
A case of fox rabies was recently confirmed in the Stratford area, but Davies said that is a different strain of the virus, “completely unrelated” to the raccoon outbreak.
Persons wanting to report wildlife (e.g. raccoons, skunks, foxes, etc.) exhibiting abnormal behavior should contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Rabies Hotline at 1-888-574-6656.