Animal Bites and Rabies

Rabies is caused by a virus in the saliva of an infected animal.   Any mammal --a warm blooded animal with fur, including bats-- can have rabies.   In the United States, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats are the main animals that get rabies.   Rabies can be passed on to humans, pets or farm animals by a bite or a scratch from a rabid animal.   If this occurs, follow-up is needed right away.

It is always best to stay away from wild animals, stray dogs and cats and to be careful with other people's pets.  People who have been bitten need to see a health care provider about the need for a tetanus shot or antibiotics, and to discuss the need for rabies prophylaxis.  The bite should be cleaned well with warm water and soap.

If you see a stray animal, an animal acting strangely, or if you are bitten, notify the Washington County Sheriff's Department at 262-335-4411.  Always make sure your pet is up-to-date with its vaccinations, including rabies.

What if you wake up to find a bat flying around your bedroom or your child's room?

DON'T help it fly out the window.  A bat can scratch you in your sleep without you knowing it, and expose you to rabies.   For you own safety and to avoid rabies prophylaxis treatment, try to contain the bat -- if you can do so without additional risk or exposure.   Humanely kill the bat without crushing the head so it can be tested for rabies.

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