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Rabies revaccination for companion animals: Canadian data

By Nigel Gumley

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Rabies is widespread in Canada, although, traditionally,the majority of reported cases have occurred in Ontario (85%) and, to a lesser extent, in Saskatchewan (10%). Since 1958, over 60 000 rabies cases have been recorded, with approximately 75% of them occurring in wildlife and the remainder in livestock and companion animals. Between 1965 and 1986, annual diagnoses of rabies varied between 1400 and 2500 across Canada, peaking at 4131 cases in 1986 (1; R. Rogers, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, personal communication). Since that time, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of reported rabies cases in all species; in 1997, 238 cases were reported of which 100 were in Ontario, 56 in Manitoba, 39 in Quebec, and 16 in Saskatchewan. Although all mammals can be infected with rabies virus, strains of rabies virus have been identified that have predilections for certain species. The control of the fox strain in Ontario in the last 10 years through oral baiting is primarily responsible for the significant decline in reported rabies cases. Unfortunately, a raccoon strain of rabies moving up from the United States threatens this method of control, and there are still significant numbers of bats and skunks diagnosed with rabies.

Although prior to 1945, dogs accounted for the majority of the cases of rabies in Canada, vaccination, animal control, and regulatory measures have reduced the incidence of rabies in dogs. Vaccines against rabies for dogs are currently available with 1-, 2-, and 3-year label recommendations, while for cats, 1- and 3-year vaccines are available. Despite the availability of vaccines providing longer term duration of immunity, many veterinarians in Canada continue to use rabies vaccine on an annual basis, even when using triennial products. In some cases, there appears to be significant confusion as to regulatory requirements; in others, there may be a lack of confidence in using triennial products according to label recommendations.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 1999
Publication Title The Canadian Veterinary Journal
Volume 40
Issue 6
Pages 404-407
Publisher Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Language English
Notes This article was found at PubMed Central:, This article is provided courtesy of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Canada
  4. Companion
  5. Health
  6. Mammals
  7. Pet ownership
  8. Rabies
  9. Rabies vaccines