The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) paired up with the Regina Humane Society on Thursday to help children get informed about how to prevent getting rabies because potential exposures to the disease are the rise.
Last year, RQHR investigated 675 potential rabies exposures, with 455 of the exposures due to dog bites.
“Ten years ago we were roughly around 300 (cases of rabies) and we’ve seen an uptick since then,” said George Koutsoulis, senior public health inspector with RQHR. “For the last few years (there’s) been 600-700 for the number (of cases) and were on track this year potentially to reach the number of 700.”
Regina has never seen numbers that high.
Koutsoulis said they believe a reason for this is due to a higher population of people in the city and people being more aware of the issue.
He said it’s important everyone is aware they need to get treatment right away if they believe they have come in contact with the disease.
“Once the symptoms start in a person or an animal it’s 100 per cent fatal,” Koutsoulis said. “Once the symptoms start you don’t come back, you die.”
Health region authorities were out, along with the Regina Humane Society, to promote their Be Dog Smart program as a part of World Rabies Day on Thursday. The program was started in 2015 to help teach children how to properly approach the dogs.
While bats are the animal rabies is most common in, people are often too trusting of dogs and forget they could also be infected.
Thorn added that most dog bites with young children stem from a pet they are familiar with.
“It’s a family pet, or a friends pet,” Thorn said. “(Children) need to know how to approach even those dogs, because even dogs that are generally happy and friendly can be put into a situation where they’re not.”
He mentioned that kids should approach the dogs slowly, with their hand in a fist and allow the dog to smell them before trying to pet the dog.
— With files from 980 CJME’s Britton Gray.