Rabies is a viral infection transmitted in the saliva of infected mammals. As the weather becomes warmer and people and their pets spend more time out of doors, the risk of contact with infected wild animals becomes greater. Rabies, if not treated in time, is almost always fatal to animals and humans.
The most effective way to prevent human rabies is to ensure your dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies and to avoid contact with wild animals. Rabies continues to circulate in wildlife in Madison, primarily among raccoons, skunks and bats. Several wild animals from Madison are tested for the presence of rabies each year.
Treatment is available for humans and pets bitten by wild or suspected rabid animals. To be effective, treatment must begin before symptoms begin, so timely attention is critical. In any instance where you or your pet contacts a wild or unknown animal, call the town's animal control officer at 203-245-2721, or the Madison Health Department, at 203-245-5681 for evaluation of the situation and follow-up procedures.
- If possible, carefully capture the wild animal for rabies testing. Use gloves, shovel, net, etc. The brain must be intact for rabies testing. If the animal is dead, double-bag and refrigerate it in a disposable cooler until retrieved by a town official.
- Use gloves, where possible, when handling your pet after a fight with another animal to minimize your exposure to saliva.
- Immediately wash any wound and your hands with soap and water after contact with a wild animal, or with your pet if he or she has had such contact.
- After contact with a wild animal, isolate your pet from family members to minimize their exposure.
- Seek medical attention for any such contact.
Area rabies clinics you may look into are in:
- Killingworth, Saturday, May 4 from 1to 3 p.m. at the Volunteer Fire House on Rt. 81;
- Durham, Sunday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Coginchaug Regional High School;
- Also check for clinics at www.ctvet.org.