Animal Bites and Rabies
ANIMAL BITES CAN BE PREVENTED. ALWAYS USE CAUTION AROUND ANIMALS. DO NOT PET AN ANIMAL YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH. STAY AWAY FROM WILD ANIMALS AND STRAY ANIMALS. NEVER ATTEMPT TO CATCH A WILD OR STRAY ANIMAL. IF YOU ARE CONCERNED WITH THE WELL BEING OF AN ANIMAL OR IF AN ANIMAL IS ACTING STRANGELY, CONTACT THE WASHINGTON COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY AT 262-677-4388. THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT ANIMAL BITES IN CHILDREN IS TO ALWAYS SUPERVISE CHILDREN AROUND ANIMALS AND TEACH THEM TO STAY AWAY FROM UNFAMILIAR ANIMALS.
Click here for a copy of our Animal Bite Brochure.
The brochure has excellent information on what to do if you are bitten by an animal.
County law states that all animal bites in Washington County must be reported to the Washington County Sheriff's Department for follow-up. The non-emergency number to call is 262-335-4411 or you can complete the attached Animal to Human Bite Report Form and fax it to the Sheriff's Department at 262-335-4429.
It is important that you call your health care provider if you are bitten by an animal. Animal bites can easily become infected. Your medical provider will help you determine if you need medical care, a tetanus booster or antibiotics. They will also work with the Health Department to determine if the issue of rabies needs to be addressed.
If you are scratched by an animal there is also a potential for rabies exposure. Review any possible exposure from a scratch with your medical provider or call the Health Department to discuss concerns you may have about any potential exposure to rabies. ALSO SEE INFORMATION BELOW ON BATS IN YOUR HOUSE.
If you have a pet that is bitten by a stray or wild animal, it is important that you report the incident to your veterinarian for follow-up of a possible rabies exposure to your pet.
The Wisconsin Rabies Prevention Flowchart can be found at: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/Rabies/RabiesAlgorithm/Index.htm.
Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It is transmitted from infected mammals to man and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear. Because there is a potential for rabies to be spread by an animal bite, it is very important that all animal bites be reported to your physician and to your local law enforcement agency. Personnel at the Washington County Health Department can assist you in deciding what to do following an animal bite. For more information on Rabies, you can find a Rabies Fact Sheet at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services web site,
or on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Animal Bites - a brochure for Washington County residents
Bats and Rabies
The vast majority of human rabies cases in the USA have resulted from virus types that are carried by bats. Significantly, most of these case-patients did not report having been bitten by a bat. This suggests that some bites or scratches from bats may be so minor as to go unnoticed, disregarded, or forgotten, yet can still result in transmission of the rabies virus. Accordingly, criteria for considering whether a person has sustained a potential rabies exposure are different when bats are involved.
Clearly, a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane contact with a bat should be considered a potential rabies exposure. However, post exposure prophylaxis should be considered whenever direct contact between a human and a bat has occurred, unless the person can explicitly rule out the possibility of a bite, scratch, or mucosal exposure. Furthermore, prophylaxis can be considered for persons who were in the same room as a bat, but who might be unaware that a bite or direct contact had occurred. (Examples: A sleeping person awakens to find a bat in the room; or an adult witnesses a bat in the room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person.)
In all instances of potential bat exposures, the bat in question should be safely collected if possible, and submitted for rabies diagnosis. This will eliminate the need to consider prophylaxis in most cases.
It is important to note that these recommendations regarding post exposure prophylaxis for bat contact exist because of the possibility that a bite or scratch from a bat may go unnoticed due to the patient's age or level of consciousness. They should NOT be construed to mean that simply being in the same area as a bat constitutes an exposure for a competent, conscious adult or older child.
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