CANADIAN LAW AND RABIES

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Rabies is a reportable disease in Canada under the Health of Animals Act and Regulation. Any animal suspected of having rabies or being exposed to rabies must be reported to the nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency by law.  Due to the virus’s virulent properties, measures of safe handling are always necessary and in certain cases government intervention.

 

Safe Handling

              I.      District Vets: Animals suspected of rabies are quarantined and if the animal shows signs of rabies then the animal must be euthanized in a manner such that the neural anatomy is intact and the head sent in a high density polyethylene bag and well-sealed to Lethbridge, AB. Specimen should be placed on cold packs (do not freeze). Collection of samples must be done using aseptic technique. Third party shipping is possible.  If an animal bites a person and is then suspected of having rabies, it may be quarantined for 10 days to six months depending on the case (CFIA 2003, National Association of State Health Veterinarians 2007).                                                                                                           

        II.  Abattoirs: A slaughterhouse must act quickly when dealing with a suspected rabid animal (in order to limit human contact). Animals are not to be brought onto the killing floor under any conditions and contact with yard personnel must be minimal. Any person who comes in contact with the suspicious animal is strongly advised to consult a physician and others are warned with signs posted on the gate. Rabid animals are detained and not slaughtered until the Animal Health representative from the CFIA arrives. In addition, if a cow is suspected of having rabies then there must be an obex tested done for BSE as well.

When Authority Intervenes

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Canadian law advocates the safeguard of animal health and prevents the transmission of rabies zoonotically. Under the Health of Animals Act, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has legal mandate to enforce this mission. In Section 22, the Minister can determine when a place is “Infected” and can take several preventative measures to control the disease when necessary. If such an event arises, then the owner or occupant of the place is notified and the movement of all animals is restricted until a veterinary inspector is satisfied that the disease is no long present on the premises. An exception to this law is wildlife, which are not owned nor can be restricted in movement. Therefore, wildlife populations are monitored under provincial law except in National Parks where jurisdiction is federal.

In addition, under Act 64, the Minister may also derive new regulations for quarantining animals, segregating, disposing of animals, preventing /eradicating vectors, and dealing with the disease generally as well.

 

Rabies Indemnification Regulations

moneyUnder federal/provincial agreements with Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba owners of domestic animals which have died as result of rabies can be financially compensated. Federal share of the indemnity is 40% of the animal’s market value up to a maximum of $400 (bovine), $200 (equine) and $80 (ovine, porcine and capride). However, the animal has to be diagnosed with rabies from a laboratory or veterinarian. 

 

Travel

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If one wishes to travel from Canada to a country which is rabies free, then often strict laws are enforced by the place of destination. For example, in the United Kingdom pets are not allowed into or pass through the United Kingdom without having to be quarantined for 6 months; however, if you own a dog, cat or ferret, then your may qualify to enter the UK sooner if the pet fits the UK’s Pets Travel Scheme. Air Canada  (2007) publishes the requirements for transporting various animals into different countries. 

If one wishes to enter Canada with a pet then conditions applicable to rabies is much more lenient. For example, if one wishes to enter into Canada with a pet dog then the animal can enter without quarantine. However, the owner should have proof that the animal has be vaccinated against rabies unless your dogs is under 3 months of age, or is a service dogs or is a dog which come from a country which is deemed rabies free. It is advisable however, to check with the CFIA on which countries are rabies free since the World Trade Organization has deemed some countries rabies free, but it does not reflect the Canadian list.

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