Rabies: Monitoring

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Human cases of rabies in Canada

Rabies in humans is nationally notifiable and reported federally by all provinces and territories through the Canadian Notifiable Disease Surveillance System.

If you're exposed to a potentially rabid animal, report the exposure to one of the following:

  • your health care provider
  • your local public health unit
  • your provincial or territorial public health authority

Public health units and authorities send information about human cases of rabies to provincial or territorial ministries of health. These ministries then send it to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Cases of rabies in humans are rare in Canada. This is largely due to excellent prevention and control programs. Since reporting began in 1924, there have been 26 cases of rabies in humans in 6 provinces. All cases were fatal.

Table 1: Reported number of human cases and deaths due to rabies in Canada since 1924
Province Number of cases and deaths since 1924
Alberta 2
British Columbia 2
Nova Scotia 1
Ontario 7
Quebec 12
Saskatchewan 2
Total 26

In Canada, the last human case of rabies was transmitted from a non-flying animal was in 1967. Since then, all human cases of rabies in Canada have been from exposure to bats or due to exposures while in another country. The most recent cases of rabies in humans occurred in:

  • British Columbia in 2019 (exposure in Canada to a rabid bat)
  • Ontario in 2012 (exposure outside of Canada)
  • Alberta in 2007 (exposure in Canada to a rabid bat)
  • British Columbia in 2003 (exposure in Canada to a rabid bat)
  • Quebec in 2000 (exposure in Canada to a rabid bat)

Animal cases of rabies in Canada

In Canada, rabies in animals is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. All suspected cases in animals must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts tests on animals involved in human exposure incidents and posts summaries of the results online.

Since 2000, the number of reported rabies-positive animals has declined, largely due to control programs.

In recent years, rabies infections have primarily been reported in:

  • bats across the country
  • skunks in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario
  • raccoons in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick
  • foxes in Nunavut and Northwest Territories, as well as the northern parts of:
    • Quebec
    • Manitoba
    • Labrador

Contact your local public health unit, or provincial or territorial public health authority for information on rabies in your area.

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