According to the Department of Public Health, over 25 animals tested positive for rabies in Connecticut during 2022. Over 90 percent of the rabies reports were attributed to a bat, raccoon or skunk. The only other two cases of rabies reported during the year were for a cat and a fox. The counties with the highest reports of rabies during 2022 were Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven and New London. In Connecticut, bats are the most likely carrier for rabies.
The Connecticut DPH describes rabies as a viral disease typically associated with animals. An infection within the brain and spinal cord causes rabies. Humans contract rabies from an infected animal bite. Rabies is often spread through dog bites in developing regions like Africa, Asia and South America. While the U.S. has minimized dog rabies exposure, the disease is still widespread amongst wildlife. The DPH state labs routinely conduct rabies testing to monitor the risk of exposure.
Rabies in Connecticut
Connecticut tests animals for rabies if there’s a risk that people or domestic animals, like pets or farm animals, have been exposed. The DPH state labs only test animals for rabies if someone has had saliva exposure or a bite. Incidents involving animals without human exposure may be tested at the University of Connecticut’s Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. BItes from domestic animals, like dog bites, may be reported to the local animal control office by the animal owner or victim.
The incubation period for rabies may range from three to eight weeks. Within the following days, symptoms may progress from a flu-like experience to encephalitis fraught with agitation, confusion, muscle paralysis and hallucinations. Once these clinical symptoms have presented, the situation may be considered fatal. Rabies can be prevented by cleaning the wound and administering antibodies and several doses of vaccines.