Nunavut Post

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

As rabies rises in the North again this year, researchers forecast coming outbreaks


Key takeaways: 

  • Alerts have been published in some neighborhoods this winter, where infected foxes or dogs have been seen.
  • It’s been a banner period for rabies in Canada’s Arctic, with ill foxes showing up in some neighborhoods. 

Rabies alerts issued in the entire North: 

Susan Tulugarjuk was going to work in Igloolik one morning in December when she felt something bite the back of her leg.

“I turned back, and there was a fox,” she remembered. “It struck me from the back. I didn’t see it.” Source –

The bite wasn’t too bad, but the more significant matter was rabies.

It’s been a banner year for rabies in Canada’s Arctic, with infected foxes showing up in some neighborhoods. Dogs have been battered and sometimes killed. 

Health officials have been giving frequent alerts to communities. People in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., warned two dogs showing rabies symptoms the previous week.

Tulugarjuk got her shots. According to the World Health Organization, the infection is “virtually 100 percent deadly” if untreated. Today, Tulugarjuk’s healed, but the whole thing has left her a little scared.  Source –

Also read: Nunavut attendance rates ‘down than usual’: Education minister

Rabies rises in North, alerts issued

“I began bringing a stick with me every time I go out… just in case, you know,” she states. Source –

“I began getting afraid of dogs. I’m usually not frightened of them.” Source –

Invariably present in Arctic fox populations

Rabies is not new in the Arctic — reported cases go back decades.

But numerous researchers are now operating to forecast the periodic rises in disease, like this winter’s outbreak in Nunavut.  

“It’s enzootic — so it’s always present in Arctic fox populations,” stated Brian Stevens, a wildlife pathologist for the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. He’s based in Ontario, and the Nunavut government-directed inquiries to him instead of a regional biologist.   Source –

“We see these cycles of outbreaks where there appears to be a more increased majority of the virus in the population,” Stevens stated. Source –

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