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Animal Bites and Rabies

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal and affecting the central nervous system of mammals, including humans.

In Northern Kentucky, there are approximately 650-700 animal bites each year, including dog, cat, ferret, bat, raccoon, and horse bites. While most of these bites do not result in the spread of illness, rabies can be a concern. 

 
What to do if you have been bitten by an animal 
How does the Health Department investigate animal bites?

How rabies is spread
How to spot rabies symptoms in pets
How to prevent rabies in humans
How to prevent rabies in pets
Rabies treatments
More information

What to do if you have been bitten by an animal
If you have been bitten, scratched or exposed to an animal’s saliva:

How does the Health Department investigate animal bites?Dog at animal shelter
If a person was bitten by a domestic animal, the Helath Department will work with the owner to enforce a a quarantine period, generally 10 days.

The quarantine period is a precaution against the remote possibility that an animal may appear healthy, but actually be developing rabies. Quarantine involves keeping the animal in and away from other people and animals. A health inspector will observe the animal at the begining of the quaratine period. At the end, generally after 10 days, the animal is observed a second time for signs of unusual behavior. Animals may be quaratined at home or at local shelters. 

If the animal appears healthy at the end of the 10 days, it will be released. If the animal is not current on its vaccinations, a  Notice to Vaccinate may be issued.

If a person was bitten by a wild animal, efforts will be made to locate the animal and, if it is a species of concern, the animal will be submitted for rabies testing.  

How rabies is spread
Most often, rabies is spread to humans through the bite of an infected animal. It is possible, but rare, for humans to be exposed to rabies through infected material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, without being bitten. If the saliva gets into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or wound, infection can occur.
 
How to spot rabies symptoms in pets
Animals may exhibit any of the following if they are infected with rabies:

How to prevent rabies in humans
Be safe when interacting with wildlife:

How to prevent rabies in pets
Be a responsible pet owner:

Rabies treatments

Most rabies fatalities have occurred when people fail to seek prompt medical assistance or are unaware of the exposure. When left untreated, rabies can cause encephalopathy and death. Death can occur within days of the onset of symptoms.
 
More information
If you feel that you may have contracted rabies or have come in contact with an animal that may be infected with rabies, contact your doctor and the Health Department at 859.341.4151 betweem 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
 
For more information online, please visit
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kentucky Department for Public Health