We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.

Rabies: The Importance of Public Awareness

The topic of rabies seems to have popped up a number of times in Alberta, over the last couple of years. The nine cases reported in 2016 more than doubled the cases in the year before. Seven bats were tested positive in 2017 and one has been reported so far this year in Jasper National Park. Bats are the main source of rabies in Alberta, though skunks, raccoons, and foxes are also common carriers in Canada. Rabies poses a serious public health risk and it is important to be well informed. World Rabies Day is September 28 and is dedicated to raising awareness about it.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system in mammals. It is spread through saliva, often via a bite wound. It can also be spread through the contamination of open wounds or mucous membranes.

What does rabies look like?

In animals: rabies can cause a wide range of clinical signs. Often, the first phase involves nervousness, fever, and early behaviour changes for 2-3 days. In the next week, the disease develops to the furious phase with varying degrees of restlessness, aggression, excitability, light sensitivity, touch sensitivity and psychotic behaviour. Some may hide in a dark or quiet place and be very unpredictable when disturbed. The disease then progresses to incoordination, disorientation, and seizures. Once the whole central nervous system is affected, the inability to swallow produces salivation, which is the classical sign of rabies. Shortly after, coma and respiratory paralysis follow, leading to death.

In humans: The initial signs are vague, including fever, headache and feeling tired. This is followed by a wide range of neurological signs such as behavioural/personality changes, blurred or double vision, and fatigue. This lasts for 4-10 days and is not considered signs of rabies unless exposure is known. The disease progresses into either the furious or paralytic form. The furious form presents as agitation, severely abnormal behaviour, delirium, being unable to swallow, seizures, hyperactivity, incoordination, excessive salivation, excessive sweating, and an irregular pulse. Coma and respiratory failure come next. The paralytic form presents as paralysis starting in the legs and working it’s way up the body. Confusion develops quickly into a coma.

How can rabies be treated?

In animals: rabies in animals is not treatable. Once rabies is strongly suspected, humane euthanasia is warranted. There are no tests available to diagnose rabies on a live animal as brain tissue is needed to run the test.

In humans: rabies has the highest death rate of any recognized infectious disease. Some people that received treatment after exposure and developed signs have survived, but most still have irreversible neurologic signs. Those that do not receive treatment before clinical signs arise have a very poor chance of surviving.

How can rabies be prevented?

In animals: dogs, cats, and ferrets should all be vaccinated against rabies and is highly effective in controlling the disease in pets and humans. Indoor pets should also be vaccinated, as small rodents or bats can get into houses and infect pets. Indoor pets also have a chance of escaping, and being unprotected and exposed to rabies is not worth the risk.

In humans: it is recommended to be vaccinated against rabies for those at frequent or high risk of exposure (those in the veterinary field, working with wildlife, humane society workers, etc). It may also be recommended for people travelling to endemic areas. Otherwise, avoiding contact with wild mammals is also important.

Take Away Message (If you skimmed this whole blog, read this)

Though not common in this area, rabies is present in our wildlife and any bites or possible bites from bats, skunks, raccoon, foxes, or other mammals should be followed by a visit to your doctor. The CDC reports a Canadian case of a man bitten by a bat. He did not receive preventative treatment, and did not show any symptoms of rabies until six months later! Unfortunately, he did not survive.

Vaccination is the best way to protect your pets (even indoor pets) against the disease. Avoid physical contact with wild mammals.

Sources:

Weese, J. Scott; Fulford, Martha B. Companion Animal Zoonoses. Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

“CDC MMWR Weekly”

Written by Michelle Stoyko, RVT

I took my dog to multiple vets for her skin condition before I called mission ridge. From the first appointment…

Kevin Green

Staff are professional and friendly. The vets are the best here.

Katherine Baronasky

I have taken my little yorkie here for the last 11 years he has owned me. ;o) I highly recommend…

T.a. Ohki

As always MRAH is the best vet clinic and all of our fur babies will continue to see the Vet…

Daryl Daniels

'Pickle' had a great first visit ! Very friendly clinic

Stephanie Gruhle

Blog

August is Food Awareness Month

During August and September, we are focusing on pet nutrition.

Read More
See All Articles

COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a "closed-door" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 780-458-3833. We will take a history of your pet from outside of your car, and bring your pet into the clinic for an examination with the veterinarian. We will then return to your vehicle with your pet to discuss our recommended treatment plan.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time.

3. We are still OPEN with the following hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Saturdays 9:00 - 2:00 pm and closed on Sundays.

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the clinic. Our staff will bring your order to your car and take payment from your vehicle.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit cards and debit card payments are still available.

6. Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our jobs. We have taken these measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid, and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

Your dedicated team at Mission Ridge Animal Hospital