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
post-exposure vaccination.
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.

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