Rabies is a fatal animal disease that is naturally communicable to humans (zoonotic). Transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, bite wounds are the most common method of infection, but any contact with saliva to an open wound or sore can cause infection. Fox, raccoons, bats and skunks are the most common mammal to catch, carry and spread the rabies virus.
How can I avoid exposure? Avoid contact with wildlife – dead or alive. Do not try to handle, feed or capture injured, sick or abandoned wildlife.
- Avoid animals acting strangely, especially those that are unusually tame, aggressive or paralyzed. Be suspicious of raccoons, skunks and bats that are active during the day. Call your local police department and/or Animal Control Officer.
- Avoid feeding birds and other wildlife close to your home. Birdseed attracts raccoons and other animals especially in the winter months.
- If you see a bite wound, scratch or any other injury on your pet, do not touch it with bare hands. WEAR GLOVES and wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
How can I protect my pets?
- Vaccinate your pets and keep them indoors when you are not at home.
- Make sure all dogs and cats are up to date with rabies and all other vaccinations, even if they are strictly indoor pets (even indoor pets can sneak out).
- Do not leave garbage, pet food, birdseed or other foods out that may attract wildlife or stray animals.
What if I am exposed?
- Don’t panic!
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Call your doctor or go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
- Report the bite to the local police or health department so the animal can be located and observed or tested for signs of rabies.
- Do not let anyone destroy the animal.
- Under NH State law, a cat or dog must be confined and observed for 10 days following the day of the bite.
A Rabies vaccination is not enough!
The NHSPCA strongly recommends that your pet receive regular annual veterinary care and any other vaccines deemed appropriate for your pet’s lifestyle by your veterinarian.