Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that travels through the body to the brain via the nervous system. Once it reaches the brain, it causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which results in neurological damage and cannot be treated. In April 1991 the first two cases of rabid raccoons in Connecticut were confirmed in Ridgefield. Since then, every city and town in the state has had confirmed cases of rabies, a total of 5,926 cases through Aug. 7, 2007. Raccoons, skunks, and bats are the most common carriers of the rabies virus, however there was an incident with a rabid woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, on the Wilton-Weston border.

The best way to protect yourself against rabies is to not approach or handle wild animals (dead or alive) or strange pets and to keep your own pets vaccinated.