What to do with an animal that has bitten a person
Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets
Rabies virus might be excreted in the saliva of infected dogs, cats, and ferrets during illness and/or for only a few days before illness or death. A healthy dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person should be confined and observed daily for 10 days. Administration of rabies vaccine to the animal is not recommended during the observation period to avoid confusing signs of rabies with possible side effects of vaccination. Animals in confinement should be evaluated by a veterinarian at the first sign of illness. Any illness in the animal should be reported immediately to the local health department. If signs suggestive of rabies develop, the animal should be euthanized and the head shipped for testing. Any stray or unwanted dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person may be euthanized immediately and the head submitted for rabies examination.
Other biting animals that might have exposed a person to rabies should be reported immediately to the local health department. Management of animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets depends on the species, the circumstances of the bite, the epidemiology of rabies in the area, the biting animal’s history, current health status, and the animal’s potential for exposure to rabies. Previous vaccination of these animals might not preclude the necessity for euthanasia and testing.
- Page last reviewed: April 22, 2011
- Page last updated: April 22, 2011
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