Rabies Control and Follow up
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
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 five
doses of rabies vaccine given over a 28 day period. 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
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. Below are some guidelines
for you to follow:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Rabies Prevention tips
- Report all domestic animal bites or scratches to the ACO.
- Report all domestic animal encounters with wild animals to the
- 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.
- 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
Animal Control Officer contact phone numbers:
- Branford: (203) 315-4125
- East Haven: (203) 468-3249
- North Branford: (203) 315-4125
More info: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3136&q=396178
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| 14 Business Park Drive | Branford, CT 06405 | Phone (203)
481-4233 Fax (203) 483-6894