Board of Health warns of rabies recently detected in wildlife

Jun 10, 2024

A racoon recently tested positive for rabies in Dartmouth.

The Board of Health distributed a notice asking the public to refrain from interacting with wild animals and to be aware of odd behavior from wildlife.

Contact the Dartmouth Board of Health if contact with wildlife is made with persons or pets. If outside of business hours, contact the Dartmouth Police Department.

According to the CDC, the rabies virus is a disease that affects the central nervous system in mammals. Bats, cats, coyotes, dogs, foxes, skunks and woodchucks are a few examples of common mammals to this area. The rabies virus is usually a disease found in animals but it can transmit to humans from an infected animal.

Rabies is spread when an infected animal bites another animal or person. The saliva of the infected animal contains the rabies virus. Rabies infection can also occur when saliva from an infected animal gets into a scratch or other wound, the eyes, nose or mouth of a person or animal.

The Board of Health shares the following recommendations to community members to prevent the spread of rabies.

- Contact a physician immediately after coming in contact with wildlife.
- Notify Dartmouth Animal Control of wildlife that exhibits strange behavior.
- Keep vaccinations up to date for cats and dogs.
- Assure children and adults do not approach wildlife.
- Do not handle any wildlife including babies or young.
- Leave the handling of wildlife to professionals. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators and problem animal control agents can handle wildlife that is not sick.
- Do not feed pets outside. Even an empty bowl will attract wildlife.
- Keep pets leashed or within a fenced yard and do not allow them to roam freely.
- Keep garbage contained in barrels with tight fitting covers.
- Exclude wildlife from entering homes with a chimney cap and repair any holes that allow wildlife to enter a home especially around the edges of the roof and vents.