The recent discovery of a case of rabies in the Macklin/Provost area serves as a good reminder for people to get their pets vaccinated.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and animals. There is no cure for the fatal disease, and any animal can be a carrier.
Area Veterinarian Natasha Kutryk said while it's the first time in around 30 years that a case of rabies has shown up at that particular clinic, they knew it had to be present in the area.
"Probably every summer there's some vet clinic that has a positive," Kutryk said. "it's definitely out there and the best we can do is just vaccinate our pets to keep them safe, and in turn, keep us safe. But because we can't really vaccinate the wildlife population, it's always gonna be out there."
She explained how they discovered the infected animal in the first place.
"A client of ours had noticed her cat playing with a bat," Kutryk said. "I'm not sure if the cat had actually killed the bat but it was a little suspicious because it was during the daylight hours and usually bats being nocturnal, you don't usually see them out in the daylight. So the owner was concerned and had the foresight to bring the bat into us, which we then submitted it to the lab in Saskatoon, who tested it for rabies and confirmed it was positive."
She added, as a safety precaution, the cat has been placed into quarantine to see if it will exhibit any symptoms consistent with rabies.
When it comes to the symptoms an animal displays when infected by rabies, Kutryk said it's not always what people expect.
"People always think about rabies as being aggressive," Kutryk said. "which it can show symptoms like that in dogs and cats but often horses and cows can present with kind of a dumb form, where they're just kind of out of it and not coherent. So it's a tricky disease but it should always be on your radar because it's out there and it's quite serious."
She said there are post-exposure shots for humans which can be successful if someone seeks treatment immediately, but said once the infection progresses to where clinical symptoms are shown, treatment is not successful and the disease is fatal.
"So that's why we are very passionate about vaccinating pets," Kutryk said. "because you are essentially protecting the human population as well."
She said it's a good idea to be wary of any animals that look unusually slow, tame or disabled as there is a potential they could be infected, and further encouraged pet owners to vaccinate their animals.
"Just a good reminder that the disease is out there, we know it always has been," Kutryk said. "and to get your pets vaccinated and always take precautions when dealing with wildlife, especially bats and skunks are known to carry rabies and it can infect any animal."