Rabies Information

Rabies is a viral disease which attacks the central nervous system in any warm blooded animal. Rabies is transmitted from animal to animal or animal to person when the virus is introduced into a break in the skin. The virus multiplies and eventually travels to the brain. In addition, the virus concentrates in the saliva so that a bite from an infected animal can cause the disease. A person can be infected with the rabies virus if he is bitten or has contact through an open cut or scratch with the blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids of an infected wild or domestic animal.

Rabies is exhibited through a variety of symptoms once an animal is infected. The most familiar symptoms are displayed in either the "furious" or "dumb" forms as listed below.

Furious Symptoms

  • aggressive
  • biting at “thin air”
  • attack without provocation

Dumb Symptoms

  • sickly
  • dazed, depressed
  • partial paralysis

The most familiar symptom of "foaming at the mouth" associated with the disease may or may not be apparent and therefore, all precautions must be taken when handling a suspect animal. Most importantly, the incubation period from the time of exposure to the onset of symptoms varies between species of animals so that an infected animal may be transmitting the disease but is not showing symptoms of the disease.

Rabies is always fatal if not treated quickly. It is extremely important that any person exposed to a suspect rabid animal SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY.

Safety Tips

Vaccinate all pets against rabies and keep their shots up to date. It’s the law.

Feed pets indoors and keep them on a leash or fenced in. Pets allowed to roam, especially cats, are more likely to contract rabies and expose you and other pets in your home.

Animal-proof your home and yard. Cap your chimney, block openings in attics, cellars, decks, and under sheds to discourage wildlife from nesting.

Store garbage in secure containers. Garbage attracts animals looking for an easy meal.

DO NOT FEED WILD ANIMALS OR STRAYS. Wildlife are meant to live in the wild. Feeding them disrupts their natural life cycle and encourages dangerous contact with family members and pets.

DO NOT HANDLE WILD ANIMALS OR STRAYS. If contact is unavoidable, use heavy gloves, sticks, or other tools to prevent direct contact. Call the Division of Natural Resources or the Animal Control Office for assistance.

Report sick or injured wildlife to the Division of Natural Resources and domestic strays to the Animal Control Office.

Steps to Take for Exposure to a Potential Rabid Animal

If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal or stray:

Wash the wound with soap and water immediately for 10 minutes.

Contact your doctor immediately for instructions on your treatment for the potential rabies exposure.

Contact the Division of Natural Resources/Animal Control Office for assistance with the capture of the suspect animal.

If your pet has been exposed, wear gloves to prevent contact with the wound and potentially infected saliva. Contact your veterinarian and the Animal Control Office immediately for further instructions.

Any potential rabies exposure must be reported to the Health Department immediately.

Your Local Contacts:

Information/Report Exposures/Domestic Pet Calls
Brewster Police Department
508-896-7011

Rabies Baiting Program Methods

Rabies Baiting Program FAQs 

For additional information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health