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Home > Programs > Bureau of Natural Resources > Division of Fish & Wildlife > Rabies


Rabies Contacts

RI DOH Rabies Information

Infectious Diseases of Raccoons
 

RABIES-

the facts you need to know NOW

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The Facts

WHO GETS RABIES?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals including humans. This means it can infect you or your family. Raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, woodchucks, cats, dogs, and cattle are most likely to get rabies. Rabbits, opossums, squirrels, hamsters, rats and mice seldom get rabies. Birds, reptiles and fish do not get rabies.

HOW IS RABIES SPREAD?
The rabies virus is concentrated in the saliva (spit) of infected animals and is spread when they bite or scratch. It also can be passed through the saliva of an infected animal wound or into the eyes or mouth of a person handling a rabid animal without an actual bite occurring. The most effective way to prevent the spread of rabies to humans is by vaccinating domestic animals.

WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS NOW?
An epidemic of rabies carried by raccoons has spread up the East Coast. For the first time in decades, there have been reports of rabies-infected cats and dogs in New England. Rabid raccoons are a greater threat than rabid bats or other animals because raccoons share habitat with humans and their pets.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MY PETS?
Vaccinations are available to ensure that your dog or cat will not get rabies. It is your responsibility to make sure that shots are kept up to date.

Your veterinarian can provide information on vaccination programs for your pet. In addition, many towns now sponsor rabies vaccine clinics where dogs, and cats may be vaccinated at minimal cost. For more information on rabies vaccine clinics, call the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RIVMA) at 401-751-0944.

State law now makes rabies vaccination mandatory for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.

If you are feeding a feral (stray) animal, you are its keeper. You are legally responsible for having it vaccinated!

It is recommended that all livestock be vaccinated against rabies as well.

 

WHEN ANIMALS BITE -- WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE IS BITTEN BY A CAT, DOG OR WILD ANIMAL

  • Wash the wound immediately with soap and running water for at least five minutes. Washing greatly lessens the chance of infection.
  • See a physician immediately. If you or the victim do not have a physician, go to the nearest emergency care facility. Explain how the victim was bitten and follow the physician's advice.
  • If your pet has bitten someone or has been bitten, confine your pet and contact your local animal control officer. Check with your pet's veterinarian for treatment and your pet's rabies vaccination history. Report any illness or unusual behavior to your veterinarian and local animal control officer immediately.
  • If the bite is from a wild or stray animal DO NOT try to capture the animal! You may endanger yourself further. Contact your local police department or DEM's Division of Enforcement at 1-401-222-3070.

 

WHAT CAN I DO?

DO vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret. You can help establish a buffer zone between infected wildlife and human beings.

DO keep your pets confined, preferably on a leash or within a fenced-in area. Feed your pets indoors.

DO keep garbage secured tightly-preferably in the house or garage.

DO enjoy wildlife-but from a distance. Rabies may cause a wild animal or a stray to appear tame. Keep that in mind if you are tempted to feed or pet strange animals.

DO spread the word. Be clear with everyone in your family that it is important to stay away from wildlife or from dogs and cats that are unfamiliar to them.

 

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY?

DON'T let your animals roam at will. If they are confined to the property, there is less risk that they will have contact with a wild animal. 

DON'T feed wild animals or stray cats or dogs.

DON'T leave pet or picnic food outdoors. That might encourage strays or wild animals to stay close to your home.

DON'T relocate nuisance wildlife animals.

DON'T leave garbage cans out overnight or uncovered.

Love Your Own,
Leave Others Alone

Rabies Kills - VACCINATE YOUR PETS


For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer
rev. 1/16/13