Rabies Reminders

September 13, 2016

As summer turns to fall, there is still plenty of time before hibernation and/or migration begins for animals with rabies to continue to show up in the district. You need to continue to be vigilant about how to prevent exposure to this disease.  

  • Maintain a barrier between you and wildlife by vaccinating your cats and dogs (required by law) and keeping their booster shots up to date.  
  • Maintain control of your pets to reduce their risk of exposure to wildlife. Keep them confined on a leash or within a fenced-in area. Do not leave them outdoors unattended.
  •  Spay or neuter your pet to decrease the number of stray animals.
  •  Don’t feed your pets outside. Be sure garbage cans and other food sources are not accessible to wildlife.
  •  Never touch unfamiliar domestic or wild animals; Avoid direct contact with stray animals; Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. If you see an animal acting strangely, distance yourself and call Animal Control in your town (or your local police department.)
  •  Do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health. Call your animal control officer or an animal rehabilitator. You can obtain a list of animal rehabilitators from the DEEP website. Go to http://www.ct.gov/deep.
  • Always use gloves when examining your pet for wounds, to minimize your chance of exposure. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after any contact, even if you have worn gloves.  If your pet is not severely injured, wait until the fur is dry to examine a wound.  The rabies virus dies once dry which takes about 5 hours. (The rabies virus can live in a deceased animal for up to 48 hours.) If your pet gets bitten or has contact with a wild animal, take your pet for a booster shot right away.
  •  If you are bitten, immediately wash the area in soapy water then promptly seek medical attention from your doctor or an emergency room. You should never ignore an animal bite, scratch or saliva contact from a wild animal or an unknown (to you) domestic animal, especially if it seems sick.
  •  Bats in a house can create difficult scenarios for assessment of human exposure. If you see a bat in the house, calmly distance yourself from the bat and call 911 for an Animal Control Officer (ACO.) who will try to capture it and assess the need for testing. Do not try to touch the bat with your bare hands. Bat bites can be very tiny and may not be evident. The State of CT Department of Public Health (CT DPH) policy which follows Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines is to only provide free testing for bats that awaken a sleeping person, or are found in a room with a sleeping or unattended child or a mentally-compromised person unable to accurately recount events. In such situations as described above, guidelines state that post-exposure treatment should be considered for these people if the bat is not available for testing. If the criteria for free testing at the CT DPH lab are not met, any person may bring a bat to the UCONN laboratory and pay to have it tested.  

 If you have a bat in the house, it is important to try to figure out how the bat got in. They are tiny and don’t need much space to get in. Check window screens, door seals, chimney flues and around window air conditioner units. As you remove window units in preparation for the winter, you should consider wearing gloves and watch out for roosting bats under units.

  •  You should call the Animal Control Officer (ACO) in your town when you have a sick or injured animal on your property; your pet has tangled with an animal and has killed or maimed it; or you have a bat in your house. If you don’t know the ACO phone number you can reach them through your local police department or by calling 911.
  •   You should call the Health District (for your town) If you have questions about a human exposure to a potentially rabid animal. However, if you are bitten by an animal, you should first seek medical care at your primary care doctor’s office or the Emergency Room. Your doctor can consult with QVHD.  Or the State Department of Public Health.

 For more information on rabies, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/.  District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call QVHD, 203 248-4528 for answers to questions. Please note: QVHD does not pick up animals or assist in searching for animals.