Rabies Testing


To test animal specimens for the rabies virus to determine the possibility of human infection and permit rapid prophylaxis.

What we do

  • Perform rabies diagnostic testing on animals that have exhibited symptoms of neurological illness and that have either bitten, or come into potential contact with, an individual.
  • Report findings to the RIDOH Center of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology in a timely manner because the course of treatment of individuals known or suspected of being exposed to rabies is dependent on rapid availability of animal testing results.
  • Maintain a trained on-call group of scientists to conduct and interpret these results and report them rapidly.
  • Analyze animal specimens submitted by RIDEM Environmental Officers, municipal animal control officers, pest control services, and the public. The most common specimens submitted for testing are bats, raccoons, skunks, but have also included dogs, cats and large farm animals.


  • In 2020, the laboratory tested 656 animals of which 36 (5.5%) were found to be positive for rabies virus. The highest number of tests occurred during the late summer months, but the data show that rabies-positive animals can be found all year long.