One of the prerequisite to participate in the Ivakkak race is that all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies is a virus transmitted by saliva of infected animals and is an important disease for humans because it is considered lethal.
In Nunavik, rabies is maintained in both the arctic and red foxes populations. This disease is difficult to control and eradicate given the vastness of the territory. Therefore, vaccination of domestic animals is utterly important in order to create a barrier between humans and infected wildlife.
Animals infected by the virus can be affected by the classical “furious form” and exhibit different behaviors such as loosing their fear of humans and of other animals, aggressiveness, chewing objects and biting. The “paralytic form” can also occurs and animals are slowly paralyzing and salivating excessively.
Sled dogs are at risk of being bitten by infected wildlife because they are usually attached or roaming outside without human surveillance. This risk occurs during the Ivakkak race but is also present in their home villages. Just to give you an idea, during the first months of 2015, there were already 4 confirmed cases of rabies in or near villages of the Hudson Bay: two domestic dogs (Ivujuvik and Akulivik), one arctic fox (Ivujivik) and one red fox (Umiujaq).
Nunavik municipalities can participate to Quebec government’s vaccination program. Contact your municipality about your animal’s rabies vaccination. If you have any questions about rabies in Nunavik you can call 1-844-264-6289.
May I also take advantage of this tribune, to insist that any person who is bitten by a domestic animal or wildlife should always present himself to the local clinic.Vaccination against rabies
Julie – Once the fox is destroyed would the fur be safe to use?
When the fur is dry, it’s safe. Drying kill the rabies virus. But it is important to be very careful when removing the skin of a rabid animal. The virus may be present in different nerves and glands in the fresh skin. This virus can infect a wound.
Merci Alain. Wearing gloves would be safest.
Nakurmiik Julie for your love working with huskie dogs in very cold temperatures. The many photos of you working with the sled dogs is fun and serious too. A book about your adventures with Ivakkak sled dogs would be a good fund raiser. Certainly a book for my library. 🙂