RABIES: How to protect you and your family from this dreaded and lethal disease. WDC does not believe in creating hysteria about the risks of animal diseases. Too often scare tactics are used by unscrupulous animal controllers and/or ignorant concerned people that result in the needless killing of many animals. We hope this page will help raise awareness so that proper precautions be taken.

state rabies information For the MASS State trifold flyer on Rabies in Acrobat Format click Rabies

RABIES: Perhaps the most feared and misunderstood disease. With the Mid Atlantic Rabies Epidemic having passed through the S.New England States in 1993-4. Many citizens learned some hard lessons about rabies. Years of failure to vaccinate pets resulted in the destruction of many beloved pets.

For information on the Rabies epidemic click CDC Rabies MMR

See also the CDC comments on human Rabies

The disease

Precautions: Prevention is the best course of action.

Evaluating Exposure

Consider the following issues

   1. Type of animal, ie. high or low risk

    2. Health of animal, ie. sick or healthy?

    3. Availability for Testing

    4. Was bite provoked or unprovoked?

    5. Type of Exposure, ie. bite, scratch

    6. Knowledge of rabies presence in the area.

Rabies Symptoms present in two different ways:

Furious Rabies is the one that gets all the press. Note the following story.

Rabid Raccoon Sends Two To Hospital
Thu Oct 10, 1:55 PM ET

Palm Beach County has extended its rabies alert after a rabid raccoon attacked two Jupiter people.

One of the raccoon's victims was Joe McGrath.

"He came out and this is all my blood right here," McGrath said. "He jumped here and just went -- kush! -- got me right there." McGrath said he tried to shake the raccoon off his hand. Finally, he succeeded, but the animal grabbed his leg, so he kicked it as hard as he could. "I mean, this thing is vicious," McGrath said.

McGrath said he ran to his townhouse and slammed the gate, but the raccoon came under and into the yard. The raccoon tore up chair cushions, scratched marks into the concrete, and McGrath could do nothing to make it stop. "I said, 'Shut the doors,' and it tried to get into the house," McGrath said.

Ultimately, McGrath sprayed the animal with kitchen cleaner. It went away, only to turn up in a neighbor's patio.Thirty minutes before McGrath's episode, Selma Tetenbaum, 73, said she was walking a half-block from McGrath's when the raccoon came out of the bushes and bit her.

Tetenbaum and McGrath went to the emergency room, got sewn up and began a series of rabies shots. Police shot the raccoon, which tested positive for rabies."I'm just glad it happened to me and not a kid," McGrath said.

Police said anyone else who might have been exposed to the raccoon's saliva should contact the Health Department and also call Animal Control if they notice sick or aggressive animals.

Dumb Rabies is when the sick animal acts hurt or simply wanders around. All rabid animals experience the dumb phase. But not all animals present in the furious phase. The dumb phase is generally more danagerous to people because people approach the animal wanting to help and then get bit.


Before getting shots look at the following flow chart to see what steps you should take. Click on the thumbnail image. For information on possible exposure to bat rabies click bats.php

rabies flow chart 2.gif (324111 bytes)

Wildlife Damage Control seeks to provide the best information available. However, due the life threatening nature of rabies, we must strongly state that our page should only be the first step not the last. Always consult with a physician or your state's Dept. of Public Health for information on their health protocols.

State Public Health Depts.

Massachusetts Division of Epidemiology and Immunization weekdays 617-983-6800  Evenings/Weekends (emergencies) 617-522-3700
Pennsylvania 717-737-5349 or 717-787-1783


Never assume an animal is not rabid!

Read the following report from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Wayne F. MacCallum, Director For Immediate Release Contact: Bill Davis Phone:(508) 792-7270 ext. 153 Fax: (508) 792-7275 E-mail bill.davis@state.ma.us



"The first case of rabies in a Massachusetts white-tailed deer has been confirmed in a female fawn encountered by hikers on conservation land in Concord," according to John McDonald, Deer Project Leader for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. "To their credit, the hikers did not touch the animal and reported their find to the property manager. The manager wrapped the fawn in a tarp and transported it to the Tufts Veterinary School where the combination of human contact and symptoms, including disorientation and seizures, mandated the deer be euthanized and tested for the rabies virus."

    Results from the State Laboratory Institute were positive for rabies. All persons who had physical contact with the animal were notified and included the two people who handled and transported the fawn from Concord to Tufts and the Veterinary School personnel who conducted tests and performed an examination. The Concord residents will undergo the post-exposure series of 5 injections while Tufts staffers, who stress the importance of gloves and protective clothing when dealing with mammals and receive pre-exposure vaccinations, will receive treatments as determined by their physicians.

    Rabies most frequently occurs in raccoons, skunks and bats in Massachusetts and can be transmitted via bites or contact with an animal's saliva to pets and humans. From July of 1997 through June of 1998 the State Laboratory Institute tested 3,472 domestic and wild animals for the rabies virus. 3,000 of the tests proved negative, 385 were positive and 87 yielded unsatisfactory results. Of the animals testing positive, 172 were skunks, 160 raccoons and 19 were bats. Other wildlife determined to be rabid included small numbers of fox, woodchuck and rabbit. Of the domestic animals tested, 1 dog and 10 cats yielded positive results.

    The lesson is clear: avoid handling wildlife, particularly mammals, as they can carry and transmit diseases that may not be evident in any obvious physical symptoms. Teach children not to approach or pick up wild animals.

Prevent your pets from having contact with wildlife as cats in particular could serve as a vector for disease between wildlife and humans. Vaccinate your dogs and cats to guard against potential rabies exposure from the unexpected skunk in the backyard or bat in the attic. It not only makes sense, it's the law. Finally, wildlife belongs in the wild. People frequently think they're "rescuing" an orphaned wild animal when in fact they are removing a perfectly healthy wild animal from its natural habitat. If you care, leave them there.

If you encounter an animal that appears to be disoriented, lethargic, aggressive or paralyzed do not attempt to assist it. Contact your town Animal Control officer, local police department, the Environmental Police or your nearest Division of Fisheries and Wildlife office for advice and assistance. For more information contact John McDonald (508) 792-7270 x121


The information contained in this press release about preventing coyote attacks can also be applied to other carnivores like skunks and Raccoon.


In the wake of the recent coyote attack on 3-year old Daniel Neal of Sandwich, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has been flooded with inquiries from the media and public seeking information on both the incident and the animal. This near tragedy has heightened public awareness of the presence of coyotes in suburban Massachusetts and serves as a timely reminder that coyotes command respect and people need to use common sense in dealing with them. To minimize the chances of conflict between coyotes and people or pets, follow these basic guidelines:

Don't feed coyotes - Artificial feeding, whether intentional or unintentional, will alter a coyote's behavior causing them to approach homes, people, cars, trash cans, bird feeders or any place they have found food previously.

Secure your pets - Keep pets under your control at all times. Cats are preyed upon by coyotes and should be kept indoors. Dogs will fight with coyotes where their territories overlap.

Don't leave dogs unattended and feed them indoors or inside a fenced kennel where leftovers won't be available to scavenging coyotes.

Secure your property - Keep trash and garbage in a container with a latching cover. Put trash out on the morning of scheduled pick up, not the night before. Don't leave fruits, vegetables or other food items in an exposed compost pile.Remove brush piles and block-off crawl spaces under sheds or porches where coyotes might find shelter or look for mice, rabbits or other small prey.

Watch for a pattern - Coyotes are creatures of habit, particularly in their quest for food, and will often display a pattern of behavior. Patterns can follow a progression which includes regular sightings on the periphery of a neighborhood, sightings in backyards, loss of or interactions with pets and approaching or following people. If this pattern isn't recognized and broken the possibility exists for the final, albeit rare, step in the process, coyote aggression toward humans.

Report unusual or consistent coyote sightings to your nearest Division of Fisheries and Wildlife office, town Animal Control Officer, local police department or the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

Remember, coyotes have been in Massachusetts for 50 years and this is the first attack on a person. Coyotes perceive humans as a predator and normally avoid contact. Coyotes are an incredibly adaptable and opportunistic species that will share habitat with humans whenever and wherever that habitat is made attractive to them. By using common sense, Massachusetts residents can minimize the chances of interacting with a coyote themselves or inadvertently causing a coyote problem for their neighbor.


Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Raccoon Rabies Oral Vaccine Project Underway in Western PA; Vaccine Now Being Distributed By
Air As Well As Land WEST MIFFLIN, Pa., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ --

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Sam Hayes today joined other state, federal and local officials to kick off the aerial campaign to distribute oral rabies vaccine in Western Pennsylvania.

"This health initiative helps to protect people, pets, agriculture and our wildlife," Secretary Hayes said. "Animal and human
health-care providers are concerned for the very serious health risk and financial burden that this disease poses for our citizens and domestic animals. This vaccination project is positive in every aspect."

Secretary Hayes said the wild raccoon population is the species with the highest incidence of rabies, and the raccoon is the species that poses the greatest threat of spreading the disease to humans and domestic and wild animals.

The state Department of Agriculture and its partners are in the process of implementing this year's Oral Rabies Vaccine baiting program. Bait containing the rabies vaccine is being distributed in a 38-mile wide band along Pennsylvania's western border from West Virginia to New York, proceeding in a southerly direction. The hand-baiting program began on Aug. 5, and will end along with the aerial-baiting campaign on Aug. 31. Baits are being distributed by air and on land.

Consisting of nearly 1.2 million vaccine units, aerial baiting is used to reach the most remote raccoon habitat areas. Each bait is clearly labeled, identifying the vaccine. The bait has a strong fish-like odor and poses a minimum health hazard to humans or animals.

Meanwhile, two-person teams began hand baiting raccoon habitats in densely populated areas. Hand baiting, numbering nearly a quarter of a million units, was scheduled throughout Erie and Allegheny counties; in Beaver County, along the Beaver-Ohio River Valley from Koppel to South Heights; and in Washington County, southward along the Monongahela River Valley to California and along the I-79 corridor as far south as Washington.

Specific municipalities throughout the western region where hand baiting is taking or has taken place include Meadville, Sharon, Greenville, Franklin, Bessemer, New Castle, Ellwood City, Butler and Zelienople.

In 1977, raccoon rabies was introduced to the West Virginia/Northern Virginia region, likely as a result of illegal translocation of raccoons from Florida for sport-hunting purposes. Subsequently, raccoon rabies has spread throughout the northeastern states, including Pennsylvania. In 2001, 439 wild and domestic animals, including 244 raccoons, were confirmed rabies-positive in Pennsylvania.

Oral rabies vaccine (ORV) has been used to successfully control rabies in foxes in Europe and Canada, and in coyotes in Texas. Oral raccoon rabies- vaccination programs have significantly reduced the incidence of reported rabies cases in Florida, Maryland, New York and Ohio.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Allegheny County Department of Health, Erie County Department of Health, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Centers for Disease Control are participating in the Wildlife Services project. The project will establish a barrier to reduce the risk of raccoon rabies in an area that extends from the Lake Erie shoreline southward through West Virginia, Virginia and into Northern Tennessee.

The bait, RABORAL V-RG (RABORAL is a registered trademark of Merial Limited), is composed of vaccine-filled plastic sachets contained within fish- meal polymer baits. Field surveys have shown wildlife populations clean the baited areas in five to seven days.

Home pets such as dogs and cats are threatened by rabies being spread by wildlife. Pennsylvania law requires all dogs and
residential cats to be vaccinated for rabies.

The vaccination of dogs in Pennsylvania has been a very effective public policy to protect dogs and their owners from the threat of rabies. The Department of Agriculture, through its Bureau of Dog Law, enforces the licensure and vaccination of dogs in the state. Approximately one million dogs are part of this statutory program each year in Pennsylvania.

CONTACT: Steve Wagner, Press Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, +1-717-787-5085.

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Rabies Primer by Stephen Vantassel Rabies Primer

e-mail us for the password.

For further zoonotic info

Contact the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of
Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602;
Phone (706)542-1741.




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