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Wildlife rabies vaccine baits being distributed across west side of Toronto

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. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

The Ontario government will be distributing rabies vaccine baits across the west side of Toronto this summer in efforts to control the spread of rabies in wild animals.

Beginning in August, crews with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be hand-dropping baits in urban areas and cities. Outside of Toronto, they will also be targeting other areas throughout the raccoon rabies control zone, which includes Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, Kitchener and Niagara Falls.

READ MORE: Government to roll out rabies measures in western New Brunswick

“Bait drop amounts will be added or adjusted based on ongoing feedback and surveillance efforts,” stated the Ontario news release.

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Additionally, vaccine baits will be dropped by aircraft across eastern and southern Ontario, including the Stratford, Hamilton, and Niagara Peninsula areas. The use of aircraft will allow crews to target remote rural or forested areas that are inaccessible by foot.

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The flavoured baits are small and an army-green colour, with a ‘do not eat’ label and toll-free rabies information number stamped on them. The public is asked to not disturb the dropped baits or attempt to feed them to pets such as dogs and cats. The rabies vaccine is meant to immunize most skunks, foxes and raccoons that eat them.

Exposure is not harmful, however, pets that eat one of the vaccines could get an upset stomach. If a person or pet ingests the bait, the government recommends contacting a doctor or veterinarian as a precaution. The bait does not protect humans or pets from rabies.

READ MORE: Ontario rabies outbreak came from more than 500 km away, research shows

According to statistics from the ministry, there were 288 cases of rabies confirmed in Ontario in 2016, including one case in Toronto involving a bat. The majority of the cases last year were recorded in Hamilton, which saw 127 involving raccoons, 76 skunks, two bats, one cat and one red fox.

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Ministry crews are expected to wrap up their rabies prevention efforts in the late fall.

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