- Rabies Prevention
- Rabies Vaccine
- Bats and Domestic Animals
- More Information
Rabies is a fatal viral disease found mainly in wildlife (especially raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks and woodchucks) but can infect domestic animals and humans.
Hundreds of cases of animal rabies have been reported throughout Vermont since 1992 and the outbreak will continue to be a problem for many years.
You can't tell if an animal has rabies by looking at it.
Rabid animals may seem normal or can be lethargic or aggressive. Usually there is a change in normal behavior. Any animal wounded by a wild animal not available for testing must be regarded as having been exposed to rabies.
Rabies is mainly transmitted by a bite
If an animal bites you: Wash the wound immediately.
Call your doctor
Rare non-bite exposures can occur if wet infectious saliva or nerve tissue contacts a fresh open wound or the eyes, nose or mouth. Rabies virus is not found in blood, urine, feces or skunk spray.
People are advised to avoid any animal that exhibits strange behavior. Don't try and trap or capture the animal yourself.
Call the Rabies Hotline at 1-800-472-2437 (800-4-RABIES) or 1-802-223-8697.
Vaccinate domestic pets and livestock
Find a local vaccine clinic, and check with your veterinarian every year.
Know who to call in your community
Your town health officer or other local official can help with an animal problem. Call the town clerk's office if you need more information. In Burlington, residents can call the animal control officer at the Burlington Police Department: 658-2700.
We are fortunate to have easy access to a wide variety of wildlife. These animals are an important part of our ecosystem, but should be appreciated at a distance.
If you think you have found orphaned wildlife, don’t touch the animal. Call the Hotline numbers below, or contact your area game warden. Burlington residents should also call the animal control officer at 658-2700.
Rabies clinics are generally conducted during the month of March to coincide with the April 1 registration due date of dog licenses.
- Bring a copy of the animal's prior rabies certificate or registration
- All animals must be leashed or in carriers
- Many clinics offer other vaccinations as well
Please contact the clinics for more information. This is not a complete listing.
You can also check with your town clerk and local news media for other clinics.
Rabies clinics are occasionally held at other times of the year. Your local Humane Society or veterinarian may have information about clinics or low cost rabies vaccinations in your area.
The rabies vaccine bait drop generally takes place in August. Vaccine, in the form of sweet-scented bait, is dropped from aircraft in rural areas and placed by hand in large residential areas.
The Rabies Bait Drop Project is an interstate/international cooperative effort by research veterinarians and wildlife biologists to keep raccoon rabies from spreading across the Vermont/Canadian border.
The project's research is directed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, in collaboration with the Vermont Departments of Health and Fish & Wildlife, and the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.
Bats are increasingly implicated in human rabies cases. A bat should be tested for rabies if it made physical contact with an individual, or is found in a room with an unattended child or a person who was sleeping.
Dead or sick bats should not be handled. While a percentage of them may carry rabies, it is more likely they are affected by white nose syndrome. If several dead or sick bats are observed, contact the Fish and Wildlife Department:
- Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05671-0501
White nose syndrome affected over 500,000 hibernating bats across the Northeast, with many of the infected bats becoming ill and dying. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is working with its national counterpart to determine the cause. Learn more.
A booster for a currently vaccinated domestic pet should be considered when the pet has wounds of unknown origin.
An unvaccinated domestic pet with wounds of unknown origin should be immediately vaccinated and kept under a responsible adult's control and observation for six months. Any significant illness lasting more than one day or change in behavior should be reported at once to a veterinarian. Please consult with the Department of Health in high risk situations.
Veterinarians: Log rabies conversations with owners on the animal's record.
The town health officer can require the confinement and observation of an apparent healthy domestic animal that bites an individual, regardless of vaccination status, for ten days for signs of illness, usually at a responsible owner's residence.
USDA’S Vermont Rabies Hotline:
- Monday - Friday (except federal holidays), 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Live rabies and wildlife information by wildlife biologists
- Weekends - recorded information and guidance
Vermont Department of Health
1-800-640-4374 (Vermont only) or 802-863-7240
Dr. Bob Johnson, State Public Health Veterinarian
- Monday through Friday (except state holidays), 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Health Care Providers may contact Dr. Johnson 24/7 as needed.
The Department of Health is also responsible for the management of animals that may have exposed humans, assesses human and animal rabies exposure, coordinates rabies specimen testing and provides vaccination guidelines.
Dial 2-1-1 or visit http://www.vermont211.org/
for information about health and human service organizations in your community, including animal control officers.