Information from MELCCFP – Raccoon rabies

The Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELFCCFP) is calling on citizens to be vigilant in the highest-risk areas, namely the Estrie and Montérégie regions.

Since March 2022, more than 30 cases of raccoon rabies have been detected in Vermont, between Burlington and the U.S.-Canadian border, along Lake Champlain. Some of these cases have occurred in an area where no wildlife vaccination has been carried out since 2020.

In April 2024, a case was confirmed in a raccoon in Swanton, Vermont, about 10 kilometers from the border.

In fact, the risk of introducing raccoon rabies to Quebec is considered high. On April 5, 2024, the Quebec government issued a call for vigilance in high-risk areas in the Estrie and Montérégie regions.

The animals targeted by raccoon rabies surveillance and control operations are raccoons, skunks and foxes.

Rabies, a risk for you and your pets

If you see a raccoon, skunk or fox that is dead or appears disoriented, injured, unusually aggressive or paralyzed, keep your distance and report its presence to 1-877-346-6763. The animal may be recovered for analysis.

The cooperation of all is essential, because among all the specimens analyzed, it is in animals reported by the population that the chances of finding an animal infected with rabies are greatest.

A reminder of how to behave safely

  • If you’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal, or come into contact with its saliva, wash the wound with soap and water for 10 to 15 minutes, even if it seems minor. Call Info-Santé 811 as soon as possible to ensure proper medical follow-up. See also the section Actions to take after coming into contact with a potentially infected animal.
  • Never approach an unknown animal, wild or domestic, even if it looks harmless.
  • Take steps to avoid attracting wild animals to your property (e.g. keep outdoor garbage cans out of reach of animals, and avoid feeding pets outdoors).
  • Avoid moving unwelcome animals, as you could spread diseases such as rabies to other territories.
  • Consult a veterinarian to have your pet vaccinated against rabies, or if it has been in contact with a wild animal likely to transmit rabies.
  • Never touch an animal carcass with your bare hands.

Rabies disease highlights :

  • Rabies is a contagious and fatal disease that can be transmitted to all mammals. It can be transmitted from infected animals to humans. In addition to raccoon rabies, other variants of rabies circulate in Quebec, notably in bats and, in northern Quebec, in foxes. Caution must therefore be exercised at all times and with all mammal species.
  • Since the discovery of the first case of raccoon rabies in Montérégie in 2006, the Quebec government has implemented a plan to combat this variant of rabies. The initial goal of eliminating raccoon rabies from the territory was achieved, and no cases of this variant have been detected in Quebec since 2016. Since then, the Plan de lutte contre la rage du raton laveur aims to prevent the reintroduction of this disease to Quebec.
  • Quebec has been collaborating with the U.S. states and neighboring provinces for many years. The goal of these joint and concerted efforts is to eliminate raccoon rabies from northeastern North America.
  • Should a case of raccoon rabies be detected in Quebec or at the province’s border, an emergency response plan is deployed, enabling rapid action to contain and limit the spread of the disease.

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