The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment announced Thursday that a rabies positive raccoon was discovered through routine testing following a sick animal call in Hyannis. There was no human contact with the raccoon. This is the first known case of terrestrial (non-bat) rabies on Cape Cod in 8 years.

Raccoon image/CDC

Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment (BCDHE) is working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) and the Town of Barnstable’s Health Division and Department of Marine and Environmental Affairs to coordinate a targeted and comprehensive trap, vaccinate and release program. Sampling for rabies will be performed on wild animals that are injured, sick acting or found dead.

It is important for the public to keep themselves, children, and pets away from wild and stray animals. Pet owners are also reminded to keep their pets’ rabies vaccines up-to-date. Remember, you cannot tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it. If you do see an animal behaving strangely, please call your local animal control official.

Rabies in wildlife, primarily raccoons, skunks and foxes, has been effectively managed in Barnstable County due in large part to oral rabies vaccine distribution conducted by the Cape Cod & Southeast MA Rabies Task Force each spring and fall.