On January 2, 2015 a rabid raccoon was reported in Berlin, leaving one resident injured after being bitten by the animal.  The Central Connecticut Heath District is reminding residents to remember that rabies can be deadly in humans and any mammal can get rabies, whether wild or domesticated.  The most common wild animals that carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. However, cats, dogs, and cattle also are susceptible to the virus.

Rabies is a disease that attacks the nervous system.  It is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal into an open wound or the mucous membranes of the eyes or mouth of an uninfected person or animal.  The most common mode of transmission of the rabies virus to people is through the bite of an infected animal. Handling a rabid animal, or coming into contact with its blood, urine, or feces, does not result in transmission of the disease.  Any infected material from the rabid animal would generally become noninfectious when it is exposed to the sunlight and dries out.

If you notice any animal exhibiting unusual behavior in your neighborhood, contact your local animal control officer for assistance.  Signs of possible rabies infection in both wild and domesticated animals include:

  • shyness of a normally friendly pet
  • fearlessness (of humans) in wild animals
  • uncharacteristic excitability, aggressiveness, or restlessness
  • sudden mood changes
  • excessive drooling
  • abnormal activity during the time of day the animal is usually inactive
  • eating substances that are not normally eaten
  • paralysis

If a person is bitten by a wild animal, it is urgent to get medical attention as soon as possible.  Untreated rabies progresses through several stages, ultimately ending in death.  When a person is exposed to rabies, the virus will incubate for weeks or months.  After incubation, early symptoms often resemble the flu -- general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache may last for days.  Fortunately, rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt treatment and prophylaxis. 

To learn more about rabies in both humans and animals, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.  For further information about this or other public health concerns, contact the Central Connecticut Health District, serving the towns of Berlin, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield, by visiting our website at www.ccthd.org or “Like” us on Facebook.