Zoonotic Diseases - Rabies
- 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.
What to do if...
|You have been exposed to a ...
||Your Pet has been exposed to a…
- 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:
- Guidelines for Submitting Specimens for Rabies Testing (Word* | also in PDF*) or
- HETL website.
For Maine residents:
For Healthcare Providers, Veterinarians,
- 2013 Animal Rabies Quarterly Reports – 1st quarter | 2nd quarter (PDF*)
- 2012 Animal Rabies Quarterly Reports - 1st quarter | 2nd quarter | 3rd quarter | 4th quarter (PDF*)
- Rabies Surveillance Report - 2012 | 2011 | 2010 (PDF*)
- Annual Report - Rabies section 2012 | 2011 | 2010 (PDF*)
- HETL Rabies Data by Year 2013 | 2012 | 2011
- Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory
- Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Maine Department of Agriculture
- Maine Veterinary Medical Association
- Maine Animal Control Association
- Maine Federal Humane Society
- USDA APHIS, Wildlife Services
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention