Maine CDC Press Release

May 19, 2015

Important Information Required To Conduct Rabies Test on Animals

AUGUSTA – As the weather warms and more wild animals come out of the woods, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds Mainers that the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) only tests animals for rabies, and certain information is required to be provided along with the animal for the test to be conducted.

"On occasion over the years, there have been deceased animals dropped off at the laboratory after hours with no information," said Ken Pote, Director of the HETL. "It's important that those who drop off an animal to be tested to provide a name and phone number so that we can test the animal, follow up with results and determine if a rabies exposure has occurred."

The Maine CDC has developed a rabies information submission form that can be downloaded at: www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/zoonotic/rabies/index.shtml. The form is located in the Animal Testing section near the bottom of the page. The local animal control officer may also offer assistance and provide answers to questions.

The rabies virus can infect any mammal but is most common in bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons. Thanks to vaccines, rabies is extremely rare among pets and farm animals. The virus lives in the saliva, brain and spinal cord (neural tissue) of infected animals.

Rabies 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.

Rabies infection is often suspected in animals that develop profound behavioral changes, limb paralysis, or both. The best protection against rabies is to ensure that your animals have been vaccinated and for humans to avoid contact with wild animals.

If rabies is suspected in a human, a primary care physician should be consulted as soon as possible.