ELMA WARD — The Ministry of Natural Resources dropped 53,000 Tootsie Roll-sized vaccination bait traps from a plane in Perth and Huron Counties over two days after a cow was confirmed to have Arctic Fox rabies. The Perth County rabies case is the fifth cow in the area that contracted rabies in the past 16 months.
The latest case involved a heifer on a farm in Elma Ward. Officials say the cow contracted the disease from a rabid wild animal such as a skunk or a fox.
All farm animals that contract rabies are put in a precautionary confinement period of 40 days to ensure other animals aren’t infected. The decision to ship milk or cattle to slaughter is decided on a case-by-case basis, according to OMAFRA.
Signs of rabies in livestock can vary, but OMAFRA says that in many cases, animals emit strange sounds due to spasms in the vocal chords. The animals may also become weak in the hindquarters and lie down.
This strain is different than the one found in the Hamilton region, where at least 200 wild animals tested positive for the raccoon strain of the virus last year.
That’s 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 dropped throughout the province.