Dated: June 1, 2018

Release Date: For Immediate Release
Contact: Linda J. Colangelo
Education and Communications Coordinator
860-774-7350 x. 14 /

Rabies Awareness a Priority for Protecting Public Health
Health Department Issues Reminder to Stay Away from Stray Animals

BROOKLYN – Warmer weather and longer days mean more time spent outdoors, which increases the risk of coming in contact with unfamiliar domestic and wild animals.

“’If it’s a stray, stay away,’ is the primary message of rabies prevention,” said Susan Starkey, Director of Health for the Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH). “Traditionally, reports of rabies exposures often peak during spring and summer months, but we want people to know that rabies is a year-round threat. Everyone should take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.

“NDDH receives reports year round of people coming in contact with raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, stray cats, and other animals” explained NDDH Public Health Nurse Nancy Beaudry. “If a person has been bitten, or if the saliva of a potentially rabid animal comes in contact with a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or open wounds, it is important to seek medical treatment and contact the health department right away so we can provide guidance and information to any exposed individuals.”

Public health works to keep people safe from exposure to rabies. Agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and animal control officers are charged with rabies management and response for domestic animals and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection handles issues concerning wildlife such as biting/attack incidents, wildlife management and rehabilitation.

“There are many partners in rabies prevention; each one taking a different role in rabies management and response,” commented Linda Colangelo, NDDH Education and Communications Coordinator. “NDDH works with veterinarians, animal control officers, nuisance wildlife control operators, physicians, emergency responders, shelter personnel, state and local law enforcement, and of course, members of the public to conduct thorough investigations when a person is thought to have been exposed to the rabies virus.”