TITLE 3

Agriculture

Domestic and Foreign Animals, Birds, Reptiles and Insects

CHAPTER 82. Rabies Control in Animal and Human Populations

Subchapter I. Rabies Control in Animal and Human Populations

§ 8201. Purpose of chapter.

The purpose of this chapter is to control and suppress the spread of rabies among the domestic and wild animal populations of the State, to provide safeguards against exposure of this disease to citizens of the State and to prevent the introduction of this virus into this State by the importation of animals or species of animals known to be vectors or carriers.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  1

§ 8202. Definitions.

(a) “Animal” means any species of mammal, not including humans.

(b) “Animal exposed to rabies” means a domestic animal that has been bitten or scratched so that the skin has been broken by a rabid animal or a suspected rabid animal, or that has had contamination of an open scratch or wound, eye or mucous membrane with saliva or other potentially infectious material such as neural tissue. The Department shall be the primary agency to manage such exposures.

(c) “Animal welfare officer” means a person employed by the Department of Health and Social Services or Department of Agriculture or a municipality as an enforcement officer.

(d) “Bite” means any penetration of the skin by the teeth.

(e) “Cat” means Felis catus.

(f) “Compendium” means the most current version of The Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control prepared by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

(g) “Control and observation” and “controlled and observed” means that the animal is under the owner’s control and is being observed for clinical signs of infection with rabies virus.

(h) “Department” means the Department of Agriculture, or officially designated agent thereof.

(i) “Division” means the Division of Public Health, or officially designated agent thereof.

(j) “Dog” means Canis familiaris.

(k) “Exotic” means not native to or generally found in Delaware. An exotic animal is ecologically foreign to Delaware.

(l) “Human exposed to rabies” means a human that has been bitten or scratched by a rabid animal or suspected rabid animal, or that has had contamination of an open scratch or wound, eye, or mucous membrane with saliva or other potentially infectious material such as neural tissue. The Division is the primary agency to manage such exposures.

(m) “Kennel” means any place wherein dogs are kept for the purposes of breeding, training, sale, or show.

(n) “Owner” means any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation keeping, harboring, or with legal responsibility for a cat, dog, or other animal.

(o) “Person” means any individual, business, partnership, firm, joint stock company, corporation, association, trust, estate, or other legal entity.

(p) “Rabid animal” means any animal confirmed rabid through laboratory testing.

(q) “Rabies” means, in human and animal, an acute viral disease of the central nervous system, caused by a rhabdovirus, also known as hydrophobia or Lyssa, usually transmitted to man through the injection of saliva by an animal bite.

(r) “Rabies vector species” means the wild animal species in the state of Delaware that most commonly carry and transmit the rabies virus to other animals, including bat, racoon, skunk fox, groundhog, or feral cat.

(s) “Strict quarantine” means confinement, under restraint by leash, closed gage, or paddock, on the private premises of the owner or at another location specified by the Department or Division, of an animal in such a manner whereby there exists no opportunity for contact with other animals or humans, excepting one person, 18 years of age or older, who cares for that animal.

(t) “Scratch” means a mark or injury caused by the claws or nails of an animal.

(u) “Suspected rabid animal” means a mammal (domestic or wildlife) exhibiting clinical signs of infection with rabies (abnormal behavior with neurologic impairment) and any bat, racoon, skunk, fox, groundhog, or feral cat.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 285, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  180 Del. Laws, c. 248, § 283 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 1

§ 8203. Reporting of rabies.

Any medical practitioner, hospital, veterinarian, or other person having knowledge of the following situations shall report the facts within 12 hours by telephone, email, fax, or in person as follows:

(1) Any suspected or confirmed case of human rabies to the Division.

(2) Any suspected or confirmed case of animal rabies to the Department.

(3) Any human known or suspected of having been exposed to rabies to the Division.

(4) Any animal known or suspected of having been exposed to rabies to the Department.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 2

§ 8204. Rabies vaccination required for dogs, cats, and ferrets; antirabies clinics.

(a) Vaccination of dogs. — (1) Any person owning a dog 6 months of age or older in this State shall have that dog vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian; exemption from vaccination against rabies may be permitted if a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and based on the veterinarian’s professional judgment, has certified in writing that at the time, vaccination would endanger the animal’s health because of its infirmity, disability, illness, or other medical considerations and a titer test, in the case of these medical exemptions, may be administered to assist in determining the need for the vaccination. The owner of the dog will receive a copy of the rabies vaccination certificate legibly signed by the licensed veterinarian. The owner of the dog will be responsible for keeping a valid rabies vaccination certificate or exemption certificate in their possession for inspection by an animal control officer, the Department, or the Division, if deemed necessary. Certification that the animal is exempt from vaccination shall be valid for a period of 1 year from the date of the issuance of the certificate of exemption, after which time the animal shall be re-examined by a licensed veterinarian and vaccinated against rabies or a new certificate of exemption shall be issued to the animal’s owner.

(2) Upon request by an animal welfare officer, the Department, or the Division, all owners of kennels, excluding licensed boarding kennels, shall present immediately a valid rabies vaccination certificate or exemption certificate, signed by a licensed veterinarian, for each dog 6 months of age or older owned by the kennel. Kennel owners will be specifically responsible for keeping all vaccination certificates for all dogs owned or kept at their premise until at least 12 months after the effective expiration date of the vaccination or exemption. If a dog is sold or traded, then the valid vaccination certificate or exemption certificate shall be given to the new owner of the dog. If no valid certificate is given to the new owner, the new owner shall have the dog vaccinated and be issued a valid vaccination certificate or examined and be issued an exemption certificate. Certification that the animal is exempt from vaccination shall be valid for a period of 1 year from the date of the issuance of the certificate of exemption, after which time the animal shall be re-examined by a licensed veterinarian and vaccinated against rabies or a new certificate of exemption shall be issued to the animal’s owner.

(b) Vaccination of cats. — Any person owning a cat 6 months of age or older in this State shall have the cat vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian; exemption from vaccination against rabies may be permitted if a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and based on the veterinarian’s professional judgment has certified in writing that at the time, vaccination would endanger the animal’s health because of its infirmity, disability, illness, or other medical considerations and a titer test, in the case of these medical exemptions, may be administered to assist in determining the need for the vaccination. The owner of the cat will be responsible for keeping a valid rabies vaccination certificate or exemption certificate in their possession for inspection by an animal welfare officer, the Department, or the Division. Certification that the animal is exempt from vaccination shall be valid for a period of 1 year from the date of the issuance of the certificate of exemption, after which time the animal shall be re-examined by a licensed veterinarian and vaccinated against rabies or a new certificate of exemption shall be issued to the animal’s owner.

(c) Vaccination of ferrets. — Any person owning a ferret 6 months of age or older in this State shall have the ferret vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian; exemption from vaccination against rabies may be permitted if a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and based on the veterinarian’s professional judgment has certified in writing that at the time, vaccination would endanger the animal’s health because of its infirmity, disability, illness, or other medical considerations and a titer test, in the case of these medical exemptions, may be administered to assist in determining the need for the vaccination. The owner of the ferret is responsible for keeping a valid rabies vaccination certificate or exemption certificate in that owner’s possession for inspection by an animal welfare officer, the Department, or the Division. Certification that the animal is exempt from vaccination shall be valid for a period of 1 year from the date of the issuance of the certificate of exemption, after which time the animal shall be re-examined by a licensed veterinarian and vaccinated against rabies or a new certificate of exemption shall be issued to the animal’s owner.

(d) Any animal that receives a certificate of exemption under this section must be treated as unvaccinated in case of potential rabies exposure.

(e) Any form necessary to implement this section shall be designed by the Department of Agriculture and made available to licensed veterinarians.

(f) Duties of veterinarian. — (1) Each licensed veterinarian may select a rabies vaccine of their choice and use procedures for administering it consistent with the recommendations of the Veterinary Biologics Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which licenses that vaccine.

(2) A rabies vaccination certificate will be promptly issued to the owner of each dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated against rabies. The licensed veterinarian administering the vaccine shall complete the certificate specifying accurately the manufacturer’s specifications of the duration of immunity of the rabies vaccination used and the date the animal shall be revaccinated in accordance with the specific criteria of the Compendium or as mandated by Delaware state law. The licensed veterinarian shall sign the certificate in a legible manner. The certificate shall also include the veterinarian’s address, telephone number, and state license number. Veterinarians shall maintain copies of these certificates for a minimum of 12 months after the effective expiration date of the vaccination.

(g) Public antirabies clinics. — The Compendium will serve as a basis for the procedures and practices used in public antirabies clinics. The Department or the licensed veterinarian selected to administer the vaccine at the public antirabies clinic will be consulted on the specific rabies vaccine or vaccines that shall be used at those clinics. All administrative procedures and personnel, excluding veterinary staffing, will be approved by the State Veterinarian. The responsible organization conducting the public antirabies clinic will be responsible for maintaining copies of these certificates for a minimum of 12 months after the effective expiration date of the vaccination.

(h) Penalty. — Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined $25. No penalty imposed by this section shall be suspended.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 309, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  178 Del. Laws, c. 323, §  180 Del. Laws, c. 248, § 382 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 3

§ 8205. Prohibition of vaccination of certain animals for rabies.

(a) No licensed veterinarian or other person may vaccinate a native wild mammal, native wild animal hybrid, exotic mammal, or exotic mammal hybrid with a rabies vaccine not intended for use in that animal, except when specifically approved by the Department.

(b) Anyone violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $250.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 285, §  275 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 4

§ 8206. Prohibition on the importation of certain animals.

(a) The Department may also ban importation of certain species of animals into the State, or require special permits for importation of certain species, if it is felt that these species of animals represent an unacceptable risk of rabies infection to humans and animals.

(b) Anyone violating this section shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 5

§ 8207. Disposition of animals exposed to rabies.

(a) Postexposure management of animals exposed to rabies must follow the guidelines set forth in the Compendium. — The Department may make inspections as is deemed necessary to assure that the animal is properly controlled and observed or strictly quarantined, issue appropriate quarantine orders, and release the quarantine after the designated period. All costs relating to strict quarantine shall be borne by the owner of the animal. In instances where strict quarantine orders are violated, the owner shall implement alternative quarantine arrangements in consultation with the Department. Any person who violates any provision of this subsection shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200.

(b) Reports of suspected rabies exposures to vaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets by vaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets. — A report of suspected rabies exposure to a vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret does not require control and observation when the owner of the animal suspected of being exposed can provide proof of current rabies vaccination for the aggressor dog, cat, or ferret to the Department and attest to the truthfulness of the identity of the aggressor and documentation of the aggressor’s vaccination status.

(c) Release of quarantine following suspected rabies exposure to dogs, cats, and ferrets by dogs, cats, or ferrets. — In the event that the owner of the animal suspected of being exposed to rabies can attest to the Department that the biting animal is alive and not displaying clinical signs of rabies at 10 days following the date of suspected exposure, the quarantine for the bitten animal can be released.

(d) Vaccinated within 28 days of exposure. — A dog, cat, or ferret that has received its initial vaccination against rabies within 28 days prior to the exposure or suspected exposure is considered unvaccinated for the purposes of quarantining the animal pursuant to this chapter, but not for the purpose of meeting the rabies vaccination requirement included in this chapter.

(e) Reporting of conditions of quarantine. — (1) The owner of a dog, cat, or ferret controlled and observed or strictly quarantined pursuant to this chapter is responsible for reporting truthful and factual information to the Department or a licensed veterinarian, if that dog, cat, or ferret shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies during the quarantine period. If the quarantined animal dies, escapes, or for any other reason is not available to complete the quarantine period, the owner shall notify the Department by telephone within 12 hours and complete a signed, notarized affidavit stating the reason for the animal’s unavailability to complete the quarantine period. This affidavit must be submitted to the Department within 7 days of the animal’s disappearance or death.

(2) Any veterinarian, approved kennel, or other person having knowledge of a controlled and observed or strictly quarantined dog, cat, or ferret which shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies shall report the facts to the Department by telephone within 12 hours.

(3) Any person failing to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200.

(f) Disposition during quarantine. — A dog, cat, or ferret under strict quarantine may not be moved from the place of quarantine, destroyed, given away, or otherwise disposed of without the written permission of the Department. Any person failing to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200.

(g) Surrender of dogs, cats, or ferrets for quarantine. — A person may not fail or refuse to surrender any dog, cat, or ferret for control and observation, strict quarantine, or destruction as required in this section when demand is made by written order of the Department or Division.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 309, §§  2, 375 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 6

§ 8208. Responsibility and liability of owner of dog, cat, or ferret for quarantine when dog, cat, or ferret is known or suspected to have exposed a human being to rabies.

(a) Quarantine at time of exposure. — The owner of any dog, cat, or ferret that is known or suspected to have exposed a human being to rabies shall place the dog, cat, or ferret under a strict quarantine for a period of at least 10 days commencing at the time of the exposure. Any person who fails to comply with this subsection shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $100.

(1) If the owner of the dog, cat, or ferret can provide proof of a currently valid rabies vaccination, that dog, cat, or ferret may be placed under a strict quarantine on the premises of the owner or custodian.

(2) If the owner of the dog, cat, or ferret cannot provide proof of a currently valid rabies vaccination, that dog, cat, or ferret must be quarantined by a veterinarian, kennel, or other facility approved by the Department. The cost of quarantine in this instance is to be borne by the owner of the dog, cat, or ferret.

(3) If the owner of that dog, cat, or ferret cannot show proof of a valid rabies vaccination, the quarantine period shall be extended beyond the 10 days until such time that the dog, cat, or ferret has been examined by a licensed veterinarian and a rabies vaccine has been administered to that dog, cat, or ferret by a licensed veterinarian. The dog, cat, or ferret must not be vaccinated during the initial 10-day strict quarantine period.

(4) In cases where the behavioral disposition of the dog, cat, or ferret poses a public health danger which renders quarantine of the animal unsafe for its caregivers, the Division, in consultation with the Department and the attending veterinarian, may elect to forego the 10 day strict quarantine and euthanize the patient and submit the brain for rabies testing.

(b) Quarantine after notice of exposure. — An owner who fails to place under strict quarantine any dog, cat, or ferret that exposes a human being to rabies after being notified that the exposure occurred and of the quarantine requirements must quarantine the dog, cat, or ferret in an approved place and manner. An owner failing to quarantine the dog, cat, or ferret shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200.

(c) Reporting of conditions of quarantine. — (1) The owner of a dog, cat or ferret quarantined pursuant to this chapter is responsible for reporting the facts by telephone to the Division or a licensed veterinarian, if that dog, cat, or ferret shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies during the quarantine period. If the quarantined animal dies, escapes or for any other reason is not available to complete the quarantine period, the owner shall immediately notify the Division by telephone within 12 hours, to be followed by a signed, notarized affidavit stating the reason for the animal’s unavailability to complete the quarantine period. This affidavit must be submitted within 7 days of the animal’s disappearance or death to the Division.

(2) Any veterinarian, approved kennel or other person having knowledge of a quarantined dog, cat or ferret which shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies shall report the facts to the Division by telephone within 12 hours.

(3) Any person failing to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200.

(d) Disposition during quarantine. — A dog, cat, or ferret under quarantine may not be moved from the place of quarantine, killed, given away, or otherwise disposed of without the written permission of the Division of Public Health or Department of Agriculture.

(e) Surrender of dogs, cats, or ferrets for quarantine. — A person may not fail or refuse to surrender any dog, cat or ferret for quarantine or destruction as required in this section when demand is made by written order of the Department of Agriculture or Division.

(f) Law enforcement canines. — Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a police dog from any recognized law-enforcement agency is not subject to being quarantined after biting any person, if such bite occurred while the dog was being used for a law-enforcement purpose and the dog is current on its rabies vaccination. The law-enforcement agency shall notify the Division by telephone if the dog shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 285, §  375 Del. Laws, c. 309, §§  4-675 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 7

§ 8209. Disposition and quarantine of animal other than dog, cat, or ferret which exposes a human being to rabies.

(a) Destruction or quarantine. — When an animal, other than a dog, cat, or ferret, exposes a human being to rabies, the Division or the Department may require the destruction of the animal for rabies testing, or the quarantine of the animal in an approved place and manner.

(b) Surrender of animal. — A person may not fail or refuse to surrender said animal for quarantine or destruction as required in this section when demand is made by written order of the Department or the Division.

(c) Report of behavior changes, escapes, etc. — Any person having knowledge of an animal, quarantined under the provisions of this section, which shows marked behavior changes, escapes, sickens, or dies, shall report the facts to the Department by telephone.

(d) Penalty. — Any person interfering with the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 309, §  775 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 8

§ 8210. Submission of animal for rabies testing and examination during quarantine.

(a) When an animal is destroyed for the purposes of rabies testing, every effort shall be made to keep the head and brain intact and unfrozen for transfer to the Division of Public Health Laboratory within 72 hours. Precautions shall be taken to avoid exposure to humans during all stages of specimen preparation and transport to the Division of Public Health Laboratory. The Division will review requests for rabies laboratory testing of rabies vector species in cases with a potential human exposure and will test samples if the rabies vector species is available and in adequate condition for valid results. The Division is responsible for ensuring that the destroyed animal is transported safely, and for notifying the submitting party of the rabies testing results.

(b) The Division or the Department may order the owner of an animal which is suspected of having exposed a human being to rabies to have the animal examined by a licensed veterinarian at any time during the quarantine period. The cost of the veterinary examination and any other associated cost shall be borne by the owner of the biting animal which is suspected of having exposed the human being to rabies. Any animal determined by a licensed veterinarian or the Department to be inhumanely suffering may be destroyed in a humane manner and the head promptly submitted to the Division of Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Department or the Division may issue a written order that an animal suspected of exposing a human being to rabies or having bitten a person and that animal having not been immunized with a vaccine specifically approved for use in that species and administered by a licensed veterinarian, shall be destroyed in a humane manner for laboratory examination for rabies, if it is determined that the animal is not being quarantined adequately or that there are other reasons which make it necessary for the preservation of human health.

(d) A person may not fail or refuse to surrender the remains of an animal for the purposes of rabies testing when a written order is made by the Division or the Department.

(e) Penalty. — Any person interfering with the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $300.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 285, §  475 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 9

§ 8211. Joint regulatory powers of Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health; quarantine and areawide emergencies.

(a) Regulations. — The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Social Services, and Division of Public Health are hereby delegated the power to adopt joint regulations signed by all 3 Department Secretaries setting forth procedures regulating the conduct of practitioners of human health, human health services, animal health services and animal control agencies for the purpose of fulfilling or carrying out the purpose and intent of this chapter.

(b) Areawide quarantine. — If rabies is known to exist within an area, the Division, in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Department may establish a rabies quarantine and shall define the boundaries or the quarantine area and specify the animal or animals subject to quarantine. All these animals within the quarantine area and subject to the quarantine restrictions shall be kept in strict upon the premises of the owner at all times until the quarantine is terminated. An animal, subject to the quarantine, may not be brought into the quarantine area or taken out of the quarantine area without written permission.

(c) Areawide rabies emergency. — The Director of the Division may declare an areawide rabies emergency and shall define the boundaries of the area and place specified animals under quarantine. By doing so, the Director of the Division authorizes the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, its agents and state and local police officers to destroy on sight any animals not in compliance with quarantine orders.

(d) [Repealed.]

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 10

§ 8212. Enforcement.

The provisions of this chapter may be enforced by any authorized employee or agent of the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Control or Health and Social Services.

66 Del. Laws, c. 247, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 11

§ 8213. Court jurisdiction.

Justices of the peace shall have jurisdiction of all offenses under this chapter.

67 Del. Laws, c. 338, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 326, §  1