Occupational Exposure to Rabies

Policy Information
Policy TitleOccupational Exposure to Rabies
Responsible OfficeEnvironmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
Policy TypeEnvironmental Health
Policy Number1015
Last Revision Date10/25/2023


The New York State Department of Health (NYS/DOH) and the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that the incidence of rabies disease in wildlife - especially skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats - accounts for a majority of all reported cases of animal rabies in New York State. Among domestic animals, cats are the most frequently diagnosed with rabies in New York State.

Facts About Rabies

Rabies is an acute viral infection of the central nervous system that affects mammals. It is transmitted by introducing the virus into cuts or wounds in skin or via the mucous membranes. Bites from infected mammals are the usual path of transmission to humans. Transmissions may also occur through scratches, abrasions, open wounds or mucous membrane that come in contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material, such as brain tissue, from a rabid animal. Casual contact, such as petting a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure and is not an indication for treatment.

  • Rabies virus can live a few hours outside the body in saliva and body fluids.
  • Rabies virus inside the body, i.e., brain, can live for days.
  • Freezing extends the life of the rabies virus after the animal's death.
  • Rabies virus is usually transmitted into open cuts or wounds in skin and via mucous membranes.
  • All known exposures to animals or humans must be reported to the Broome County Department of Health (607-778-2887) by EH&S staff.  Any preparations for laboratory diagnosis must be done in accordance with NYS/DOH guidelines.

Universal Precautions

Consider all exposures to known vectors as rabid.  Known vectors include (all) bats, red & grey fox, raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats, livestock as well as carnivorous wild animals. This includes all road kill. 

Engineering Controls & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All employees that have the potential to come into contact with a suspected rabid animal must practice the following engineering controls and wear appropriate PPE:

  • Always wear heavy-duty rubber gloves when handling equipment to pick-up road kills or to physically handle a carcass.  Red-bag disposable gloves and follow regulated medical waste procedures for disposal of red-bag waste (see Management Procedure 1010).  Disinfect non-disposable utility gloves.
  • Required equipment for the pickup of road killed or euthanized animals is:
    • heavy-duty rubber gloves
    • plastic bags - 23"x17"x48" (minimum 3 mil)
    • flat blade shovel with marked handle (i.e. handle painted red)
    • 10% fresh bleach solution - bucket or sprayer
  • Use a designated shovel, to pick up a road killed animal.  Use the marked shovel only for road kills and store it in a safe and readily available location.
  • Animals raccoon-size and smaller must be placed in a plastic bag and tied shut.  Deliver to S5-G06 for disposal.  Larger animals must be buried at a depth of three feet or more.
  • Disinfecting the shovel, your hands, the truck bed and the roadway where the carcass laid is required.  Liberally spray or pour a 1:10 household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution on the equipment, ground, hands (gloves) & truck bed after the carcass has been bagged.
  • Suspected live rabid animals should be referred to the Broome County Department of Health (607-778-2887).  Animals should be euthanized only by appropriate authorities and the carcass handled following universal precautions while utilizing Personal Protective Equipment.


Any employee receiving a suspected exposure (bite, scratch or direct contact with saliva or body fluids to a cut or mucous membrane) must report the exposure to their supervisor and Environmental Health & Safety (607-777-2211) immediately.

In addition to verbally reporting the incident, a CS-13 accident or illness report must be completed within 3 days and forwarded to Environmental Health & Safety (see Management Procedure 802).

All exposures will be reported to the county health officer in accordance with the New York State Sanitary Code Chapter I, Title 10, Part 2, Section 2:14 (Broome County Dept. of Health: 607-778-2887).