Animal Bites and Rabies

Rabies: Symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention

Animal Bites and Rabies | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Rabies is a virus that is usually spread by the bite or scratch of an animal. By the time the symptoms appear, it is generally too late to save the patient.

However, a person who may have been exposed to rabies can usually be treated effectively if they seek help at once.

In the United States, between 1 and 3 people contract rabies each year. From 2008 to 2017, the U.S. saw 23 human cases, eight of which were contracted outside the country. Advances in medicine, awareness, and vaccination programs have reduced the incidence of rabies since the 1970s.

However, globally, it remains a problem, and tens of thousands of deaths result from rabies each year, mostly in rural areas of Southeast Asia and Africa. Over 95 percent of infections are caused by dogs.

Share on PinterestVaccinate dogs and cats to protect them from rabies.

Rabies is a viral infection that mainly spreads through a bite from an infected animal. It is an RNA virus of the rhabdovirus family.

Without early treatment, it is usually fatal.

The virus can affect the body in one of two ways:

  • It enters the peripheral nervous system (PNS) directly and migrates to the brain.
  • It replicates within muscle tissue, where it is safe from the host’s immune system. From here, it enters the nervous system through the neuromuscular junctions.

Once inside the nervous system, the virus produces acute inflammation of the brain. Coma and death soon follow.

There are two types of rabies.

Furious, or encephalitic rabies: This occurs in 80 percent of human cases. The person is more ly to experience hyperactivity and hydrophobia.

Paralytic or “dumb” rabies: Paralysis is a dominant symptom.

Rabies is most common in countries where stray dogs are present in large numbers, especially in Asia and Africa.

It is passed on through saliva. Rabies can develop if a person receives a bite from an infected animal, or if saliva from an infected animal gets into an open wound or through a mucous membrane, such as the eyes or mouth. It cannot pass through unbroken skin.

In the U.S., raccoons, coyotes, bats, skunks, and foxes are the animals most ly to spread the virus. Bats carrying rabies have been found in all 48 states that border with each other.

Any mammal can harbor and transmit the virus, but smaller mammals, such as rodents, rarely become infected or transmit rabies. Rabbits are unly to spread rabies.

Rabies progresses in five distinct stages:

  • incubation
  • prodrome
  • acute neurologic period
  • coma
  • death

Incubation period

This is the time before symptoms appear. It usually lasts from 3 to 12 weeks, but it can take as little as 5 days or more than 2 years.

The closer the bite is to the brain, the sooner the effects are ly to appear.

By the time symptoms appear, rabies is usually fatal. Anyone who may have been exposed to the virus should seek medical help at once, without waiting for symptoms.


Share on PinterestDuring the prodrome stage of rabies, a person may experience coughing and fever.

Early, flu- symptoms, include:

  • a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or above
  • headache
  • anxiety
  • feeling generally unwell
  • sore throat and a cough
  • nausea and vomiting
  • discomfort may occur at the site of the bite

These can last from 2 to 10 days, and they worsen over time.

Acute neurologic period

Neurologic symptoms develop, including:

  • confusion and aggression
  • partial paralysis, involuntary muscle twitching, and rigid neck muscles
  • convulsions
  • hyperventilation and difficulty breathing
  • hypersalivation or producing a lot of saliva, and possibly frothing at the mouth
  • fear of water, or hydrophobia, due to difficulty swallowing
  • hallucinations, nightmares, and insomnia
  • priapism, or permanent erection, in males
  • photophobia, or a fear of light

Toward the end of this phase, breathing becomes rapid and inconsistent.

Coma and death

If the person enters a coma, death will occur within a matter of hours, unless they are attached to a ventilator.

Rarely, a person may recover at this late stage.

Why does rabies cause a fear of water?

Rabies used to be known as hydrophobia because it appears to cause a fear of water.

Intense spasms in the throat are triggered when trying to swallow. Even the thought of swallowing water can cause spasms. This is where the fear comes from.

The excess saliva that occurs is probably due to the impact of the virus on the nervous system.

If the individual could swallow saliva easily, this would reduce the risk of spreading the virus to a new host.

At the time of a bite, there is usually no way to tell for sure whether an animal is rabid, or whether it has passed on an infection.

Lab tests may show antibodies, but these may not appear until later in the development of the disease. The virus may be isolated from saliva or through a skin biopsy. However, by the time a diagnosis is confirmed, it may be too late to take action.

For this reason, the patient will normally start a course of prophylactic treatment at once, without waiting for a confirmed diagnosis.

If a person develops symptoms of viral encephalitis following an animal bite, they should be treated as if they may have rabies.

If a person is bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies, or if the animal licks an open wound, the individual should immediately wash any bites and scratches for 15 minutes with soapy water, povidone iodine, or detergent. This might minimize the number of viral particles.

Then they must seek medical help at once.

After exposure and before symptoms begin, a series of shots can prevent the virus from thriving. This is usually effective.

Strategies include:

A fast-acting dose of rabies immune globulin: Delivered as soon as possible, close to the bite wound, this can prevent the virus from infecting the individual.

A series of rabies vaccines: These will be injected into the arm over the next 2 to 4 weeks. These will train the body to fight the virus whenever it finds it.

It is not usually possible to find out whether the animal has rabies or not. It is safest to assume the worst and begin the course of shots.

A small number of people have survived rabies, but most cases are fatal once the symptoms develop. There is no effective treatment at this stage.

A person with symptoms should be made as comfortable as possible. They may need breathing assistance.

Share on PinterestIn some areas the vaccination of humans is necessary to prevent the spread of rabies.

Rabies is a serious disease, but individuals and governments can and do take action to control and prevent, and, in some cases, wipe it out completely.

Strategies include:

  • regular antirabies vaccinations for all pets and domestic animals
  • bans or restrictions on the import of animals from some countries
  • widespread vaccinations of humans in some areas
  • educational information and awareness

In rural Canada and the U.S., agencies have dropped baits containing an oral vaccine to reduce the number of wild raccoons with rabies.

In Switzerland, the authorities distributed vaccine-laced chicken heads throughout the Swiss Alps. The foxes immunized themselves by consuming the vaccine, and the country is now almost free of rabies.

Individual precautions

Individuals should follow some safety rules to reduce the chance of contracting rabies.

  • Vaccinate pets: Find out how often you need to vaccinate your cat, dog, ferret, and other domestic or farm animals, and keep up the vaccinations.
  • Protect small pets: Some pets cannot be vaccinated, so they should be kept in a cage or inside the house to prevent contact with wild predators.
  • Keep pets confined: Pets should be safely confined when at home, and supervised when outside.
  • Report strays to the local authorities: Contact local animal control officials or police departments if you see animals roaming
  • Do not approach wild animals: Animals with rabies are ly to be less cautious than usual, and they may be more ly to approach people.
  • Keep bats the home: Seal your home to prevent bats from nesting. Call an expert to remove any bats that are already present.

In 2015, a woman died from rabies after being bitten by a bat during the night. She did not realize she had been bitten.

People are encouraged to seek medical help after an encounter with a wild animal, even if they do not have bite marks or other outward signs of injury.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls rabies a “100-percent vaccine-preventable disease.” They note that at least 70 percent of dogs in an area must be vaccinated to break the cycle of transmission.

In the U.S., vaccinations control rabies in domestic dogs. Nevertheless, between 30,000 and 60,000 people seek rabies postexposure prophylaxis every year, following contact with suspect animals. Hundreds of thousands of animals undergo tests and observation.

Between 60 and 70 dogs and around 250 cats are reported rabid each year in the U.S. Most of these have not been vaccinated, and they were exposed to the virus through wild animals, such as bats.

The prevalence of rabies varies widely in different countries. In nations without a feral dog population, the rates are significantly lower.

Rabies is present in 150 countries and in all continents except Antarctica and the Arctic. Islands such as New Zealand, Australia, Mauritius and the Seychelles, are helped by their natural isolation.

Africa and Asia are the continents where rabies is most common. India has the highest number of cases.

In recent years, the prevalence of rabies in South America and the Caribbean has fallen significantly, due to rabies control programs. Official figures show that in 1990 there were 250 cases, but by 2010, there were fewer than 10.

Anyone who is traveling to an area where rabies is prevalent, or who is participating in activities where they are ly to come into contact with wild animals that may have rabies, such as caving or camping, should ask their doctor about vaccinations.

  • Veterinary
  • Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses
  • Neurology / Neuroscience


Rabies information

Animal Bites and Rabies | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Rabies is a rare infection of the brain and nervous system that is almost always fatal. Rabies is passed through saliva by an animal with rabies bites another animal or human. Rabies is preventable. Prevent rabies by not handling wild animals and by vaccinating your pets to protect both the pets and the people in your family.

How common is rabies?

Although human rabies cases are rare in the United States, with only 1 to 3 cases reported each year, animal bites are common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Oregon, bats are the main animal of concern for rabies. In the last five years, Clackamas County has averaged one bat per year that tested positive for rabies. 

In the last 15 years in Oregon, less than 10 percent of bats that have been tested and approximately 16 percent of foxes that have been tested were found to have rabies. These were animals that were acting or more ly to be acting unusual, thus the amount of rabies in the wild is ly less than this. During this period, no cats, dogs, or raccoons tested positive for rabies in Oregon.

If you are bitten by an animal

Animal bites sustained by a Clackamas County resident should be promptly reported to the Clackamas County Public Health Division at 503-655-8411 or go to the Oregon Health Authority’s website to find help near you. Particularly, any contact between a bat and a human should be evaluated carefully and immediately.

Animal bites and scratches should be treated first other wounds. According to the CDC, wound cleansing alone even without other treatment already reduces the lihood of rabies

For superficial bites from a familiar household pet that is immunized and in good health:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least five minutes, but do not scrub, as this may bruise the tissue. Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
  • Watch for signs of infection at the site, such as increased redness or pain, swelling, drainage, or if the person develops a fever. Call your health care provider right away if any of these symptoms occur.

For deeper bites or puncture wounds from any animal, or for any bite from a strange animal, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Library suggest the following:

  • If the bite or scratch is bleeding, apply pressure to it with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes, but do not scrub as this may bruise the tissue.
  • Dry the wound and cover it with a sterile dressing, but do not use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound as this could trap harmful bacteria in the wound.
  • Call your health care provider to determine whether additional treatment, such as antibiotics, a tetanus booster, or rabies vaccination is needed. This is especially important for bites on the face, hands, or feet, or for bites that cause deeper puncture wounds of the skin.
  • If the animal cannot be found or is a high-risk species (bat), or the animal attack was unprovoked, the victim may need a series of rabies shots and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin.
  • Call your health care provider for any flu- symptoms, such as a fever, headache, malaise, decreased appetite, or swollen glands following an animal bite.

Locating the animal that inflicted the wound

Some animals need to be captured, confined, and observed for rabies. Others may be tested for rabies. Testing for rabies requires the animal to be dead and requires coordination with Public Health. Do not try to capture the animal yourself.

Instead, contact the nearest animal warden or animal control office in your area. If the bite comes from a dog, contact Clackamas County Dog Services. If the bite comes from another animal, call Public Health.

If assistance is needed finding the animal (other than a dog) call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.

Oregon laws relating to rabies vaccination

Oregon law (ORS 433.365; OAR 333-019-0017) requires all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies as early as three months of age. There are not state laws about other pets, but this is recommended.

Discuss options with your veterinarian.

Pets that may have been in contact with rabid animals may be required by law to be vaccinated and either quarantined or euthanized according to instruction from Public Health.

Vaccinating livestock/animals

The National Associate of State Public Health Veterinarians recommends rabies vaccinations for all horses and livestock that have frequent contact with humans (e.g., in petting zoos, fairs, and other public exhibitions). Consult with your veterinarian about vaccination protocols for domestic animals.

Batproofing your house

People should examine their home for holes that might allow bats inside the home. Most bats leave in the fall or winter to hibernate, so these are the best times to batproof your home.

Fill any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics, fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking, and ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.

Clear plastic sheeting or bird netting may be used to cover areas where you've seen bats roost.

How to safely catch a bat

You should avoid handling bats at any cost. However, if you must come into contact with a bat, follow these steps:

  • Turn on room lights and close the windows.
  • Close the room and closet doors.
  • Wait for the bat to land.
  • Wearing gloves, place a coffee can, pail or similar container over the bat.
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat.
  • Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container.

Once contained in a secure box, do not release the bat, and call the Clackamas County Public Health Division at 503-655-8411. Only if the captured bat is the same one that caused a bite wound and if it is captured with an intact head will be considered for testing at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory.

Video: How to Safely Catch a Bat in Your Home


Rabies’ horrifying symptoms inspired folktales of humans turned into werewolves, vampires and other monsters

Animal Bites and Rabies | Johns Hopkins Medicine

In 1855, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the gruesome murder of a bride by her new husband. The story came from the French countryside, where the woman’s parents had initially prevented the couple’s engagement “on account of the strangeness of conduct sometimes observed in the young man,” although he “otherwise was a most eli[g]ible match.”

The parents eventually consented, and the marriage took place. Shortly after the newlyweds withdrew to consummate their bond, “fearful shrieks” came from their quarters.

People quickly arrived to find “the poor girl… in the agonies of death — her bosom torn open and lacerated in a most horrible manner, and the wretched husband in a fit of raving madness and covered with blood, having actually devoured a portion of the unfortunate girl’s breast.”

The bride died a short time later. Her husband, after “a most violent resistance,” also expired.

What could have caused this horrifying incident? “It was then recollected, in answer to searching questions by a physician,” that the groom had previously “been bitten by a strange dog.” The passage of madness from dog to human seemed the only possible reason for the grisly turn of events.

The Eagle described the episode matter-of-factly as “a sad and distressing case of hydrophobia,” or, in today’s parlance, rabies.

But the account read a Gothic horror story. It was essentially a werewolf narrative: The mad dog’s bite caused a hideous metamorphosis, which transformed its human victim into a nefarious monster whose vicious sexual impulses led to obscene and loathsome violence.

My new book, “Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920,” explores the hidden meanings behind the ways people talked about rabies.

Variants of the rabid groom story had been told and retold in English language newspapers in North America since at least the beginning of the 18th century, and they continued to appear as late as the 1890s.

The Eagle’s account was, in essence, a folk tale about mad dogs and the thin dividing line between human and animal. Rabies created fear because it was a disease that seemed able to turn people into raging beasts.

A terrifying and fatal disease

A werewolf wreaks havoc in this 1512 woodcut. Lucas Cranach the Elder, Herzogliches Museum/Wikimedia Commons

The historian Eugen Weber once observed that French peasants in the 19th century feared “above all wolves, mad dogs, and fire.” Canine madness – or the disease that we know today as rabies – conjured up the canine terrors that have formed the stuff of nightmares for centuries.

Other infectious diseases – including cholera, typhoid and diphtheria – killed far more people in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The cry of “Mad dog!” nonetheless sparked an immediate sense of terror, because a simple dog bite could mean a protracted ordeal of grueling symptoms, followed by certain death.

Modern medicine knows that rabies is caused by a virus. Once it enters the body, it travels to the brain via the nervous system.

The typical lag time of weeks or months between initial exposure and onset of symptoms means that rabies is no longer a death sentence if a patient quickly receives injections of immune antibodies and vaccine, in order to build immunity soon after encountering a suspect animal. Though it’s rare for people to die of rabies in the U.S., the disease still kills tens of thousands of people globally every year.

The virus affects the brain, as seen with the darker purple inclusions, called negri bodies, in the brain cells of someone who died of rabies. CDC/Dr. Makonnen Fekadu, CC BY

According to 19th-century sources, after an incubation period of between four and 12 weeks, symptoms might start with a vague sense of agitation or restlessness.

They then progressed to the wracking spasmodic episodes characteristic of rabies, along with sleeplessness, excitability, feverishness, rapid pulse, drooling and labored breathing.

Victims not infrequently exhibited hallucinations or other mental disruptions as well.

Efforts to mitigate violent outbursts with drugs often failed, and physicians could then do little more than stand by and bear witness. Final release came only after the disease ran its inevitably fatal course, usually over a period of two to four days. Even today, rabies remains essentially incurable once clinical signs appear.

Centuries ago, the loss of bodily control and rationality triggered by rabies seemed an assault on victims’ basic humanity. From a real dreaded disease transmitted by animals emerged spine-tingling visions of supernatural forces that transferred malevolent animals’ powers and turned people into monsters.

Bites that transform people into animals

Nineteenth-century American accounts never invoked the supernatural directly. But descriptions of symptoms indicated unspoken assumptions about how the disease transmitted the biting animal’s essence to the suffering human.

Newspapers frequently described those who contracted rabies from dog bites as barking and snarling dogs, while cat-bite victims scratched and spat. Hallucinations, respiratory spasms and out-of-control convulsions produced fearful impressions of the rabid animal’s evil imprint.

Traditional preventive measures also showed how Americans quietly assumed a blurred boundary between humanity and animality. Folk remedies held that dog-bite victims could protect themselves from rabies by killing the dog that had already bitten them, or applying the offending dog’s hair to the wound, or cutting off its tail.

Such preventatives implied a need to cut an invisible, supernatural tie between a dangerous animal and its human prey.

Sometimes the disease left eerie traces. When a Brooklynite died from rabies in 1886, the New York Herald recorded a freakish occurence: Within minutes after the man’s last breath, “the bluish ring on his hand – the mark of the Newfoundland’s fatal bite…disappeared.” Only death broke the mad dog’s pernicious hold.

Vampires’ roots in rabid dogs

It’s possible that, along with werewolves, vampire stories also originated from rabies.

Physician Juan Gómez-Alonso has pointed out a resonance between vampirism and rabies in the hair-raising symptoms of the disease – the distorted sounds, exaggerated facial appearances, restlessness and sometimes wild and aggressive behaviors that made sufferers seem more monstrous than human.

Extreme oversensitivity to stimuli, which set off the tortuous spasmodic episodes associated with rabies, could have a particularly strange effect. A glance at a mirror might set off a violent response, in a chilling parallel with the living-dead vampire’s inability to cast a reflection.

Moreover, in different eastern European folkloric traditions, vampires turned themselves not into bats, but into wolves or dogs, the key vectors of rabies.

The fun of a Halloween werewolf hints at the fear of a person becoming an animal. AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer

So as aspiring werewolves, vampires and other haunts take to the streets for Halloween, remember that beneath the annual ritual of candy and costumed fun lie the darker recesses of the imagination. Here animals, disease and fear intermingle, and monsters materialize at the crossover point between animality and humanity.

Cave canem – beware the dog.


Animal Bites and Rabies

Animal Bites and Rabies | Johns Hopkins Medicine

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Animal bites and scratches, even when they are minor, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body.

Whether the bite is from a family pet or an animal in the wild, scratches and bites can carry disease. Cat scratches, even from a kitten, can carry “cat scratch disease,” a bacterial infection.

Other animals can transmit rabies and tetanus. Bites that break the skin are even more ly to become infected.

What is the care for animal bites?

For superficial bites from a familiar household pet that is immunized and in good health:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes, but do not scrub, as this may bruise the tissue. Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.

  • Watch for signs of infection at the site, such as increased redness or pain, swelling, drainage, or if the person develops a fever. Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these symptoms happen.

For deeper bites or puncture wounds from any animal, or for any bite from a strange animal:

  • If the bite or scratch is bleeding, apply pressure to it with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding.

  • Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes. Do not scrub as this may bruise the tissue.

  • Dry the wound and cover it with a sterile dressing. Do not use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound as this could trap harmful bacteria in the wound.

  • Call your healthcare provider for guidance in reporting the attack and to determine whether additional treatment, such as antibiotics, a tetanus booster, or rabies vaccine is needed. This is especially important for bites on the face, hands, or feet, or for bites that cause deeper puncture wounds of the skin. It is also important for all cat bites that have a high incidence of infection. 

  • If possible, locate the animal that inflicted the wound. Some animals need to be captured, confined, and observed for rabies. Do not try to capture the animal yourself. Contact the nearest animal warden or animal control office in your area.

  • If the animal cannot be found or is a high-risk species (raccoon, skunk, or bat), or the animal attack was unprovoked, the victim may need a series of rabies shots and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin.

Call your healthcare provider for any flu- symptoms, such as a fever, headache, malaise, decreased appetite, or swollen glands following an animal bite.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection of certain warm-blooded animals and is caused by a virus in the Rhabdoviridae family. It attacks the nervous system and, once symptoms develop, is 100% fatal in animals, if left untreated.

In North America, rabies happens primarily in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bats. In some areas, these wild animals infect domestic cats, dogs, and livestock. In the U.S., cats are more ly than dogs to be rabid.

Individual states maintain information about animals that may carry rabies. It is best to check for region-specific information if you are unsure about a specific animal and have been bitten.

Travelers to developing countries, where vaccination of domestic animals is not routine, should talk with their healthcare provider about getting the rabies vaccine before traveling. 

How does rabies happen?

The rabies virus enters the body through a cut or scratch, or through mucous membranes (such as the lining of the mouth and eyes), and travels to the central nervous system. Once the infection is established in the brain, the virus travels down the nerves from the brain and multiplies in different organs.

The salivary glands are most important in the spread of rabies from one animal to another. When an infected animal bites another animal, the rabies virus is transmitted through the infected animal's saliva. Scratches by claws of rabid animals are also dangerous because these animals lick their claws.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

The incubation period in humans from the time of exposure to the onset of illness can range anywhere from 5 days to more than a year, although the average incubation period is about 2 months. The following are the most common symptoms of rabies. Symptoms may include:

Rabies: Stage 1Rabies: Stage 2
  • Initial period of vague symptoms, lasting 2 to 10 days
  • Vague symptoms may include, fever, headache, malaise, decreased appetite, or vomiting
  • Pain, itching, or numbness and tingling at the site of the wound
  • People often develop difficulty in swallowing (sometimes referred to as “foaming at the mouth”) due to the inability to swallow saliva. Even the sight of water may terrify the person.
  • Some people become agitated and disoriented, while others become paralyzed
  • Immediate death, or coma resulting in death from other complications, may result

The symptoms of rabies may look other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is rabies diagnosed?

In animals, the direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA) done on brain tissue is most often used to detect rabies. Within a few hours, diagnostic labs can determine whether an animal is rabid and provide this information to medical professionals. These results may save a person from undergoing treatment if the animal is not rabid.

In humans, a number of tests are necessary to confirm or rule out rabies, as no single test can be used to rule out the disease with certainty. Tests are done on samples of serum, saliva, and spinal fluid. Skin biopsies may also be taken from the nape of the neck.

What is the treatment for rabies?

Unfortunately, there is no known, effective treatment for rabies once symptoms of the disease appear. However, there are effective vaccines that provide immunity to rabies when administered soon after an exposure. It may also be used for protection before an exposure happens, for people such as veterinarians and animal handlers.

How can animal bites and rabies be prevented?

Being safe around animals, even your own pets, can help reduce the risk of animal bites. Some general guidelines for avoiding animal bites and rabies include the following:

  • Do not try to separate fighting animals.

  • Avoid strange and sick animals.

  • Leave animals alone when they are eating.

  • Keep pets on a leash when out in public.

  • Select family pets carefully.

  • Never leave a young child alone with a pet.

  • All domestic dogs and cats should be immunized against rabies and shots kept current.

  • Do not approach or play with wild animals of any kind, and be aware that domestic animals may also be infected with the rabies virus.

  • Supervise pets so they do not come into contact with wild animals. Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals.

What would my healthcare provider need to know about an animal bite?

If you or someone you know is bitten by an animal, remember these facts to report to your healthcare provider:

  • Location of the incident

  • Type of animal involved (domestic pet or wild animal)

  • Type of exposure (cut, scratch, licking of open wound)

  • Part of the body involved

  • Number of exposures

  • Whether or not the animal has been immunized against rabies

  • Whether or not the animal is sick or well; if “sick,” what symptoms were present in the animal

  • Whether or not the animal is available for testing or quarantine