Raccoon rabies spreads to Cape Cod, Rhode Island
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:
YARMOUTH, EAST PROVIDENCE–Massachusetts state budget cuts
that reduced funding for oral anti-rabies vaccination of raccoons
from $209,000 in 2001 to just $60,000 in 2004 left the Cape Cod
Rabies Task Force nearly penniless at the end of June. Rabies first
hit raccoons in Massachusetts in 1992, but a decade of successful
vaccination kept the disease from jumping the Cape Cod Canal until
March 2004. Twenty-two rabid raccoons were found in four Cape Cod
towns by June 13.
The rabies outbreak also hit Rhode Island. The East
Providence Animal Shelter on May 6 reportedly impounded five
raccoons, in violation of protocol; left them with a foster family
for a month; and then exposed them to a sixth raccoon who was found
acting strangely at a golf course.
That raccoon turned out to be rabid. All of the raccoons
were killed. At least 46 people who handled the raccoons were given
Raccoon rabies spread into the northeast from the
mid-Atlantic states after a group of coonhunters and trappers
translocated 3,500 raccoons from a rabies-endemic part of Florida to
the Great Smokies and Appalachia in 1976.