Animal bites & Rabies prevention
According to Ohio Administrative Code 3701-3-28, “Whenever a person is bitten by a dog or other mammal, report of such bite shall be made within 24 hours to the health commissioner of the district in which the bite occurred.” If you have been bitten by an animal, or know someone who has, please report this to The Clark County Combined Health District to file an Animal Bite Report.
What We Do
According to Ohio Revised Code 3701-3-29, the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) is required to quarantine all dogs, cats and ferrets that bite people. The quarantine is for no less than 10 days and is usually done at the animal owner’s home. The purpose of the quarantine is to ensure that the biting animal does not have rabies. If the biting animal had rabies at the time it bit, the symptoms of rabies will be seen in that dog, cat or ferret within 10 days following the bite.
What to do if you are bitten or scratched by an animal
- Thoroughly clean the wound area with soap and water and cover with a clean dressing or bandage.
- Immediately seek medical care with your family doctor, urgent care or emergency room. Many bites are puncture wounds that can easily become infected if not cared for properly.
- Try to obtain information about the animal’s owner including name, address and telephone number.
- Try to obtain information about the biting animal such as the type of animal, color, breed and name.
- Make sure that the healthcare provider reports the animal bite to the CCCHD. If not, please contact CCCHD at (937) 717-2451 #3 to file an Animal Bite Report.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The virus travels through the central nervous system to the brain. Once it reaches the brain, the disease nearly always causes death.
This is a disease that is preventable in several ways:
- Keeping our pets currently vaccinated against rabies;
- Avoiding encounters with wild animals like bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes;
- Seeking immediate medical attention and rabies treatment if bitten by a rabid animal.
How is rabies spread?
Rabies is spread or transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal to another animal or human. Usually, this happens through a bite that breaks the skin, or contact with saliva into an open scratch or wound. On very rare occasions, it has been documented that it can be spread if someone’s eyes, nose or mouth comes in contact with the saliva of a rabid animal.
What animals can have rabies?
In Ohio, the most common animals to have rabies are bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes. Bats have been the only animal to test positive for rabies in Clark County since 2006. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the last domestic animal to test positive was a dog in 2011 from Summit County. However, nationally, cats are three times more likely than dogs to test positive for rabies. One reason we do not often see rabies in domestic animals and pets is because of the availability and inexpensive cost of rabies vaccination.
What is my risk with bats and rabies?
As noted above, bats have been the only animal to test positive for rabies in Clark County since 2005; therefore, it is important to understand the risks associated with bat encounters. Examples of situations where there is a probability of rabies exposure:
- Bat found in a room with a sleeping person.
- Bat found in proximity to an unattended child who is not able to describe what happened.
- Bat found in a room with an individual under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with other sensory or mental impairment.
For more information on bat encounters and determining rabies risk, click here to view the Ohio Department of Health document entitled Managing Bat Encounters and Rabies Risk.
Important: If you feel you have been exposed to a bat, please seek immediate medical attention at a local emergency room and explain to them that you may have been exposed to a bat.
It is always best if the bat is seen and can be captured so that it can be tested. If you do not feel that you can capture the bat, please contact either a wildlife specialist or CCCHD.
Note: DO NOT take a captured bat into urgent care or the emergency room; they do not test bats for rabies. Please call CCCHD at (937) 717-2451 #3 to make arrangements to either deliver the bat to CCCHD or have the bat picked up.