For Immediate Release: April 12, 2019

Media Contact:
Ben Truman
Vermont Department of Health
802-316-2117 / 802-863-7281


Coyotes in Salisbury and New Haven Test Positive for Rabies
Residents are urged to take steps to keep themselves and pets safe

BURLINGTON – Residents near Salisbury and New Haven in Addison County are being urged to take precautions after one coyote in each town recently tested positive for rabies, a deadly viral disease that infects mammals, including humans. The first coyote was collected in Salisbury after it attacked two people. Tests at the Health Department Laboratory on April 2 determined it was rabid. The second coyote was found in New Haven following reports of aggressive behavior. It tested positive for rabies on April 12. 

Coyotes can live in all habitats in Vermont, including suburban areas. It is possible that additional coyotes in the area, and other wildlife vulnerable to rabies – such as racoons and skunks, could also be sick and capable of spreading the disease to humans or other animals. State health and fish and wildlife officials are urging residents near Salisbury and New Haven – and all Vermonters – to take precautions to stay safe and know what to do if they or their pets may have been exposed to rabies.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and contact your health care provider immediately. Follow all instructions they may give.

If your pet or farm animal was exposed to a potentially rabid wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian immediately. Make sure all family pets, including barn cats, are up to date with rabies shots.

If you see a wild or stray animal acting strangely, reach out to your local Fish & Wildlife game warden through state police dispatch, report it to your town’s animal control officer, or call the Rabies Hotline (1-800-4-RABIES). Do not touch or pick up wild or stray animals – even baby animals – or try to make them into pets. Doing so can put yourself or your family at risk. You can’t tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it.

Rabies among coyotes in the state is relatively rare. Among animals tested at the Health Department Laboratory since 2005, these latest incidents are the first coyotes to test positive. Officials said that by taking reasonable precautions, such as avoiding animals which are acting sick or aggressive, people can safely enjoy being outside or in the woods, and appreciate Vermont wildlife from a respectful distance.

The rabies virus is spread through the bite of an infected animal, most commonly raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into a bite wound, open cuts on the skin, or onto mucous membranes like the mouth or eyes. People cannot get rabies from petting or handling animals, or from coming into contact with the animal’s urine, blood or feces. When caring for pets, always feed them inside the house and keep them indoors at night. If they are outdoors during the day, keep them on a leash or in an enclosed space. Pets that roam free are more likely to be exposed to rabies.

Learn more about rabies in Vermont:

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