Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian: Rabies

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Rabies is an acute, fatal viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal and impacts public health, agriculture, and wildlife.

Alberta’s reservoir of the rabies virus resides in our bat population at a low prevalence, however, human or pet exposure to bats must be taken seriously. Through Alberta’s Rabies Program the Public Health veterinarian works closely with our health partners, private veterinarians, wildlife officers and the public to ensure rabies testing occurs as required.

Notice - Animal Health Act - Reportable and Notifiable Disease – Rabies

Effective April 1, 2014, any domestic or wild animal suspected of carrying rabies infection MUST be reported to the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (CPV) within 24 hours.

You can report by calling the Rabies line 1-844-427-6847

FAQ for veterinarians reporting and submitting to Alberta's rabies program

Q: My client has brought in their pet that has bitten someone, whom do I report this to?
A: Please call your Alberta Health Services (numbers below) zone for guidance.

Q: My client’s pet was attacked by a wild animal, whom do I report this to?
A: Please take a look at the Domestic Animal Exposure Assessment Tree and contact the Public Health Vet at 1-844-427-6847 during business hours.

Q: Is it okay to freeze a rabies sample?
A: Yes, freezing does not affect the quality of the sample, BUT the sample will have to be thawed for it to be tested, so it will take longer to get rabies results.

Q: Will the quality of the sample be affected by heat/warmth/sun?
A: Yes, the quality of the rabies sample will be affected by heat/warmth/sun. Please keep the sample either in a freezer (see above notes) or keep it cool in a fridge. If you can’t put it in a fridge or freezer, place the sample in cool dark area with ice packs around the head to prevent decomposition.

Q: My client brought a bat into the clinic, what do I do?
A: Please take a look at the Bat Exposure Assessment Tree and contact the appropriate government department (Alberta Health Services for human exposure and the Public Health Vet for pet animal exposure - contact information is available in the flow chart document).

Q: I have a bat in my house that I have been instructed to catch by Alberta Health Services (AHS) or by the public health veterinarian; how do I do that?
    A:1. Find a small container like a box or a large can, and a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the opening in the container. Punch small air holes in the cardboard.

    2. Put on leather work gloves. When the bat lands, approach it slowly and place the container over it. Slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.

    3. If you are certain there has been no contact between the bat and any people or pets, carefully hold the cardboard over the container and take the bat outdoors and release it away from people and pets.

    4. If you are unsure about contact between the bat and people or pets, save the bat for testing. Tape the cardboard to the container, securing the bat inside.

More information:
Bats are an extremely important part of our ecosystem, but a very small percentage of them are known to have the rabies virus. Any known or suspected contact with a human or pet needs to be taken seriously – contact your doctor or AHS (for human contact) or veterinarian/call the rabies line (for pet contact) at the numbers below.

Important Contact Numbers:
Public Health Veterinarian: 844-427-6847

Alberta Health services:
North zone: 800-732-8981
Edmonton zone: 780-433-3940
Central zone: 866-654-7890
Calgary zone:403-264-5615
South zone: 844-388-6691
First Nations Inuit Health:780-218-9929

For further information on rabies management, read the Recommendations of the Canadian Council of Chief Veterinary Officers Subcommittee for the Management of Potential Domestic Animal Exposures to Rabies
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ana Ulmer-Franco.
This document is maintained by Anamika Sharma.
This information published to the web on April 20, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 7, 2018.