Rabies Control & Guide
The East Shore District Health Department plays a role in rabies prevention and control. Good rabies prevention and control activities include the prevention of rabies in humans and domestic animals. We work closely with each town's animal control officer (ACO) to react to domestic animal exposures to rabies and assess the potential for human exposure to rabies.
Rabies Prevention Tips:
- Vaccinate your dogs and cats
- Do not allow your dog or cat to roam at will
- Do not feed or handle wild or stray animals
- Do not allow children visiting petting zoos to put their fingers through barriers as many farm animals can not be vaccinated
- against rabies.
- Avoid attracting wildlife near your home
- Check with your physician about rabies vaccine if traveling internationally
Guidelines for you to follow if you feel you have been exposed to rabies :
- Report all domestic animal bites or scratches to the ACO.
- Report all domestic animal encounters with wild animals to the ACO.
- Report suspicious acting or aggressive wild animals to the ACO.
- Report all potential human rabies exposures to the East Shore District Health Department and your personal physician.
Animal Control Officer contact phone numbers:
Branford: (203) 315-4125
East Haven: (203) 468-3249
North Branford: (203) 315-4125
The first case of raccoon rabies in our state was identified in 1991. Many wild and domestic mammals, such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, woodchucks, bats, cats, dogs, livestock and farm animals can be infected by rabies as well as transmit it. Bats carry rabies, but of a different strain. Squirrels, rodents and rabbits seldom spread rabies, primarily because they are vulnerable in the food chain.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system caused by a virus present in the saliva of an infected animal. All mammals are susceptible to rabies. Primarily, the virus is transmitted through the saliva of a sick animal to another animal via a bite. The virus can also be transmitted when infected saliva is deposited on damaged or broken skin by a scratch or splashed in the eye or mouth, but this type of transmission is much less common.
The incubation period is defined as the time elapsed between exposure and the time symptoms appear. In humans exposed to rabies, the incubation period is usually three to eight weeks, rarely as short as nine days, or as long as seven years. Likewise, dogs and cats can have an incubation period of weeks or even months. What is important is that prevention of rabies after exposure must be given during the incubation period. Rabies prophylaxis (preventative) injections are only effective if administered before symptoms appear. Therefore, it is very important that rabies shots are administered as soon as possible following a known exposure.
Care of a dog or cat after exposure to rabies
NEVER try to break up a fight between your pet and a wild animal. If your pet was bitten or has fought with a potentially rabid animal, wear protective rubber gloves and clothing when handling, washing, or treating its wounds. You should contact your veterinarian immediately for further advice. The veterinarian will examine and treat your pet and determine if rabies prophylaxis or re-vaccination is needed.
Care of a human after exposure
Wash the wound immediately with soap and water for ten minutes. Immediately call your physician, Animal Control Officer, and the East Shore District Health Department. You should describe the incident in great detail so that an accurate evaluation of exposure is made. Post exposure treatment may be recommended. Post exposure treatment of rabies consists of one dose of immune globulin and several doses of rabies vaccine given over a month. This vaccine is very effective in preventing rabies before the onset of symptoms. Most people do not react adversely to the vaccine. If possible, capture the animal that exposed you for examination, testing, or observation. Capture of the animal may help prevent having to receive post exposure treatment in some instances. If a potentially rabid animal is dead, it could be tested for rabies. Make sure that the animal is not destroyed or carried off by another animal. Special care should be taken to not damage the head of the animal, as the brain is the organ tested for rabies virus. Contact your animal control officer for assistance.
Wild Animal Bagging Recommendations
Goal: To prevent accidental exposure of residents or Police Officers to wild animal saliva and body fluids
Caution: Before bagging any animal, make certain it is dead by poking it (preferably in the eye) with a long stick to see if it reacts.
- Wear durable disposable rubber or latex gloves and clothing that could be discarded if soiled. Clothing should cover as much skin area as possible.
- Double line a large garbage container with plastic trash bags. If no container is available, use double lined bags to scoop animal into the bags.
- Lift and drop the animal into the lined container. A shovel, or other tool could be used for leverage.
- Tie off plastic bags. Place bags into cardboard box, properly label.
- If property owner is burying or disposing of animal, it is now ready. If animal is to be tested, keep boxed animal refrigerated or in a cooler with ice or dry ice until it could be transported for testing.
- The animal control officer should make arrangements with the East Shore District Health Department for transport and testing.
- Clean up area with bleach and water solution. One cup of bleach per gallon of water is sufficient. Let dry.