What is Rabies?

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that infects warm-blooded animals and humans. It is often spread by the saliva of an infected animal through a bite, or in some cases, a lick. The disease is contained in the United States by strict laws and protocols to prevent the spread. In other countries throughout the world, however, it is still very prominent and is almost 100% fatal when contracted. 

Three Rivers District Health Department Environmental Staff investigate all animal bites to prevent human infection.

How do I prevent Rabies?

Be a responsible pet owner. Vaccinate your dogs, cats, and ferrets for rabies per veterinarian recommendation. Most often vaccines should be updated with “boosters” between 1 and 3 years depending on the vaccine. 

Three Rivers District Health Department conducts Rabies Vaccine Clinics each year where you can obtain a rabies vaccine for your pets for $5.00 each. Contact your local health center for more information.

  • Never handle, attract, or feed wild animals. Most wild animals cannot be vaccinated for rabies and should not be purposely encountered to prevent a risk of exposure. 
  • Avoid and prevent bats. Bats are beneficial members of our ecosystem, however, they should not be allowed to enter living spaces or spaces occupied by humans. They can have rabies too. Contact your local exterminator if you see a bat in your home, office, etc. so they may humanely remove the bat(s).
  • Local animal control officers should handle stray animals. If you have stray animals in your neighborhood, contact animal control.

What should I do if I am bitten?

If you are bitten by an animal (wild or domestic), immediately wash the wound. Contact your physician or go to the hospital if the wound is severe.

  • Contact animal control to capture strays.
  • Gather as much information as possible, including animal type, description, owner name (if domestic and not a stray), addresses, and phone numbers where the animal is housed. 
  • Contact the local health center to quarantine and/or test the animal.

How do I know if I've been bitten by a bat?

The small teeth of a bat can make a bite difficult to find. If you have found yourself in a situation where a bat landed on you, was in the room with an unattended child, or was near someone who was impaired, take action.

Try to safely capture the bat, have the bat tested through your local health department, and seek medical advice. 

For more information on Rabies investigations, contact your local Environmental Health Personnel at one of our Health Centers.