Zoonotic Diseases - Rabies

World Rabies Day is on September 28!

Preventing Rabies in Maine - Video | Transcript

Maine Rabies Management Guidelines, 2012 (PDF*) 
(Form to request copies of Maine Rabies Management Guidelines)

 

General Information

  • What is rabies?
    Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated.  Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, but rabies in animals - especially wildlife - is common in most parts of the country including Maine. An animal with rabies is called a “rabid” animal.
  • How is rabies spread?
    The rabies virus lives in the saliva, brain and spinal cord (neural tissue) of infected animals. It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal, or if a rabid animal’s saliva or neural tissue comes in contact with a person or animal’s mouth, nose or eyes, or enters a cut in the skin.  Rabies is not spread by petting or touching dried saliva, blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal.
  • What animals can carry rabies?
    In Maine, the most commonly infected animals are skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes. Rabies can infect any animal that has hair, but is very rare among small rodents like squirrels, rats, mice, and chipmunks. Bat exposures are often difficult to detect, especially in the cases of a sleeping person awakening to a bat in the room or an adult witnessing a bat in a room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person.
  • What is a rabies exposure?
    A rabies exposure happens when the saliva or neural tissue of a rabid animal comes in contact with a person or animal through a bite or scratch, cut in the skin, or gets into the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • How can I prevent exposure to rabies?
    Generally, you can avoid contact with wild animals. Also, make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccination.

 

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Animal Exposures

What to do if...

You have been exposed to a ...
  • Domestic animal (cat or dog)
    • Clean all wounds with soap and water for 10-15 minutes.
    • Call your local Animal Control Officer.
    • Call your Healthcare Provider.
    • The cat or dog will likely require a 10 day quarantine to rule out rabies.
  • Wild animal (raccoon, skunk, bat, fox, or other wild animal)
    • Clean all wounds with soap and water for 10-15 minutes.
    • Call your local Game Warden.
    • Call your Healthcare Provider
    • Rabies testing is needed on the wild animal to rule out rabies.
Your Pet has been exposed to a…
  • Domestic animal (cat or dog)
    • Call your local Animal Control Officer
    • Call your Veterinarian
    • If fully vaccinated, the cat or dog will likely require a 45 day observation period to rule out rabies.
  • Wild animal (raccoon, skunk, bat, fox, or other wild animal)
    • Call your local Game Warden
    • Call your Veterinarian
    • Rabies testing is needed on the wild animal to rule out rabies

See also:

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Animal Testing

  • Animal rabies testing is available free of charge when the suspected animal has had contact with domestic animals or people and the animal cannot be quarantined.  Testing is performed at the Maine State Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL), located at 221 State Street in Augusta.  
  • Please use the Rabies Submission Form (Word* | also in PDF*) when sending an intact animal head for rabies testing.
  • For more information:

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Data & Surveillance

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Important Telephone Numbers

  • ME CDC Disease Reporting & Consultation (24/7)
    • 1-800-821-5821; TTY: 207-287-8016
  • Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory
    • 207-287-2727
  • Department of Agriculture (State Veterinarian)
    • 207-287-3701
  • Local Animal Control Officer
    • Contact your town office or city hall, or local law enforcement agency
  • Game Warden Service (Weekdays):
    • Ashland  207-435-3231
    • Bangor 207-941-4440
    • Gray 207-657-2345
    • Greenville 207-695-3756
    • Sidney 207-547-5300
  • State Police (Nights and Weekends):
    • Augusta 1-800-452-4664
    • Gray 1-800-482-0730
    • Houlton 1-800-924-2261
    • Orono 1-800-432-7381

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