Environmental Health

Rabies Prevention

Rabies infection in humans almost always results in death. Worldwide more than 50,000 people die each year from rabies.  Rabies is an infection of the brain caused by a virus which spreads through the saliva of infected, sick animals. The rabies virus grows and survives in mammals.  In Canada, rabies virus survives mainly in bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks but other animals such as dogs and cats become infected too. 

Rabies is 100% preventable. There have been no human rabies cases reported in the NWT.

Wild animals deserve our respect.  Touching or bothering wild animals may cause harm to the animal or the person touching the animal.

Environmental Health Officers investigate any reports of contact between animals and humans that might possibly lead to a rabies infection.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal in the NWT, or if you had direct contact with a bat, contact your local health centre or health practitioner right away and they will report it to the Environmental Health Unit for investigation.  If possible, animals that have bitten or scratched someone must be isolated (not in contact with other animals and humans) and observed for 10 days to ensure they are not sick.

If you own a cat or dog, you can help prevent rabies infection by vaccinating your pets. Not only are you protecting yourself and your family, you are reducing the risk of your pet transmitting rabies to people. The vaccine will also protect your pet from getting rabies if it is exposed to wild animals.

To learn about rabies, visit the Government of Canada website: