A rabid raccoon was recently found in West Bath, marking the area’s first documented rabies case since an outbreak in 2019-2020 that included several instances of animals attacking people.

West Bath Animal Control Officer Todd Stead said he shot and killed the raccoon June 21 on Sea Kiss Point near Hill Road after workers building a house reported the animal acting strangely. State officials tested the animal’s brain and confirmed it had rabies, according to Stead.

A raccoon peeks through the bushes. Rabid raccoons and other animals have been reported in Brunswick, Topsham, Bowdoinham, Bowdoin and West Bath so far this year.  Craig Snapp photo

The last rabies case in Bath was discovered Jan. 6, 2020, in a gray fox, according to state officials. The last case in West Bath was found April 21, 2020, also in a gray fox.

“Rabies is endemic to Maine and something people need to always be aware of and take precautions,” Bath police Chief Andrew Booth said. “We would encourage Bath residents to be vigilant and report suspicious animals, get their pets vaccinated and keep them under close watch; and limit trash, compost and bird seed, which can attract wildlife, thus encouraging the spread of rabies.”

From 2019 to early 2020, there were at least a dozen instances of likely rabid foxes attacking people in Bath and West Bath, leading officials in Bath to start a trapping campaign.

Statewide, documented rabies cases have steadily dropped from a modern high of 89 in 2019. However, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention last month issued an alert after an uptick of cases this year compared to last year. As of June 22, 31 cases were reported, compared to 35 all of last year.


In Brunswick, two rabid raccoons and two rabid skunks were reported this year, while two rabid raccoons were reported in Bowdoinham, one rabid raccoon was reported in Bowdoin and a rabid bat was reported in Topsham, according to state data. In March, a rabid raccoon entered a Bowdoinham woman’s home and attacked her. A few days later, suspected rabid raccoons attacked a man, dog and a stray cat in the same community.

Rabies, found in the saliva of infected animals, is spread through bites or scratches, since animals routinely lick their paws. Rabies is most commonly found in raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats and woodchucks in Maine.

Signs of a rabid animal include mobility problems, excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, and abnormal levels of aggression.

Vaccines are considered the best way to prevent the spread of rabies; state law requires cats and dogs over the age of 3 months to be vaccinated against the virus. Human rabies vaccines are available and also used as treatment if a person is bit by a suspected rabid animal. In 2022, federal wildlife officials scattered millions of fish-flavored rabies vaccine packets in Maine and 12 other states, aimed at reducing the virus in raccoons.

Bath officials were criticized for their 2020 trapping campaign, which caught 24 raccoons and four skunks that were later killed, over concerns it wasn’t effective because it didn’t necessarily target animals that were infected. Rabies can only be detected by analyzing brain tissue, which requires an animal to be euthanized.

People who encounter possibly rabid animals are urged to contact their animal control office or local police department and the Maine Warden Service.

Comments are not available on this story.