In the late 1950s, the infectious disease known as “rabies” worked its way eastward across Canada. All warm-blooded creatures, including humans, are susceptible to the rabies virus that will lead to deadly acute encephalitis. In 1959 I was detailed to work on the disease in eastern Ontario. My principal responsibility was to capture as many samples of live bats in the eastern counties and take them to a lab in Quebec where I also examined the bat for any insects etc., it might have on its body. I was truly surprised to see little infectious creatures attached to the bat’s body because bats are one of the cleanest creatures I had ever come across.

The bat is not the only mammal that is susceptible to this deadly disease. The skunk, raccoon, foxes and coyote are high on the list of mammals known to get rabies, as well as the dog. The actual transporting of rabies is done through the saliva of one mammal to the other. The caution here is that this does not only mean through a bite, but through the saliva of the animal’s mouth. This means that rabies can be spread by licking. It should be made clear that touching other parts of the body, such as membranes, including the eyes, nose and mouth, could lead to the spread of the disease.

Murray and Lisa Martin’s family dog, Avalanche, has been well inoculated for rabies and they encourage everyone to do so

Using the raccoon as an example, if having come in contact with a rabid animal and been bitten, go to a doctor or medical clinic immediately and report the incident. The disease will take anywhere from three to 12 weeks to incubate. During that time, the bitten raccoon may show no signs of being rabid aka biting things. In some cases, what thy call dumb rabies might show and the biting animal may wander rather stupidly, biting even at sticks. This is why rules are in place against feeding wild animals. Besides teaching the animal to rely on humans to feed them, another concern is that these wild creatures could be infected with this deadly disease. Remember, a WILD ANIMAL IS WILD!

When the disease finally reaches the brain, the virus multiplies exceptionally rapidly and passes through the salivary glands. At this point, chances are that the animal will not live more than a week. This is when you will note that the wild animal seems friendly to people. 

Do not be fooled by this as this is a sign that the wild animal could possibly have rabies.

If you see a wild animal dead on the side of the road, do not touch it, as it could well end up being infected with this disease. If you see an animal dead on the side of the road or in fact anywhere, call a conservation officer. Do not touch it. 

All of the above is reason enough to have your dog inoculated with the rabies vaccine. The vaccine will be good for three years. Remember, an animal does not have to be bitten by an animal infected with rabies. Just coming in contact with its mouth or body could transport this deadly disease of rabies. In taking your dog across the border into the USA, you must show a veterinarian’s paper showing inoculation certification or they will not allow you to cross the border. In many communities across Canada, all dogs must be inoculated with the rabies vaccine. It is not only wise to stop the spread of this deadly diseases to other animals, but to the protection of all people.

The amazing creatures – Little Brown Bat