The number of Ontario rabies cases dramatically increased in 2016, but numbers remained low in Eastern Ontario, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
There were 288 identified cases of rabies in 2016. They included 171 raccoons, 84 skunks, 29 bats, one cow, one cat, one llama and one red fox.
There were just six cases in Eastern Ontario, all found in bats. There were two in both Ottawa-Carleton and Northumberland, and one each in Frontenac and Peterborough.
The 288 provincial cases are up from 24 cases in 2015. The previous six years combined saw a total of 163 cases.
Most of the 2016 cases came from the Hamilton, Haldimand and Niagara regions, which have seen an outbreak of raccoon rabies. Ministry officials believe the strain came from an animal that stowed away on a train or transport truck from the United States in 2015.
Last year’s numbers are a far cry from the 3,600 cases across Ontario in 1986. The numbers started to decrease dramatically after 1989 when bait traps with a vaccine were planted throughout the province.