Clinical Signs
Treatment and Prevention
If you Suspect Exposure
Vaccines and Protocols
Distribution in Western Canada



Although, much emphasis is put on the carnivore population, the virus is also present in other reservoir species. These wild animals carry the virus among their population, allowing it to persist and spread in the environment.  It has been found in the arctic fox, the red fox, the striped skunk and many bat species across North-America.  It's also found in the pet population and this is the reason for routine rabies vaccination and it may even spill over into livestock and sometimes in humans.

In British Columbia, insect eating bats are the only rabies carriers, (7) although there have been sporadic cases occurring in other species. Since 1960, all positive cases of rabies were found in bats and occasionally in a small number of terrestrial mammals. Remarkably, there have been no cases reported in domestic dogs or wild carnivores or any species.  (6)



In Alberta for example the rabies virus is found in two main reservoirs: the striped skunk and in various species of bats, though little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) are the most common bat species in Alberta. Cases in skunks tend to be along the Saskatchewan border and the Montana border. Cases of rabies in bats, although they are found throughout the province are concentrated near human populations. The Albertan government has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus among the skunk population and thus limiting the risk of spread to other species.  Any skunk found dead or to be acting in a bizarre manner is submitted for testing at the laboratory in Lethbridge.  If the skunk is found to be rabid, other skunks 8 kilometres round where the original skunk was found are collected and brought in for testing.  The few skunks testing positive are thought to be from enzootic areas. (8)


In Saskatchewan, the rabies virus is found predominantly in the skunk population and also in bats. There also have been cases of rabies seen in other wild animals and in livestock and pets. The occurrence of rabies in the skunk population fluctuates - when it is high there is also an increased occurrence of rabies in wild and domestic animals, increasing the  risk to humans. (10)


In Manitoba, skunks, foxes and bats are the main carriers of rabies. Due to favourable conditions, the virus has increased significantly among the skunk population.