Animal BitesWhat should be done when an animal bites a human?
- Immediately cleaning the bite with soap and water for 10-15 minutes.
- Depending upon the severity of the bite, medical attention may be needed. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection.
- Report all animal bites to local law enforcement
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Animal Bites
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rabies
Rabies Vaccination and Pet LicensingAll dogs and cats should be up to date on rabies vaccination. Pets should be licensed through local municipalities.
What is Rabies?Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous system that causes a fatal inflammation of the brain or brain and spinal cord. Rabies is transmitted ONLY when the virus is introduced into open cuts or wounds in the skin or mucous membrane. The majority of rabies exposures are a result of animal bites. All warm-blooded mammals (including humans) are vulnerable to rabies infection; however the degree of susceptibility varies greatly.
The Infection Path of the Rabies Virus
- An animal is bitten by a rabid animal.
- Rabies virus from the infected saliva enters the wound
- Rabies virus travels through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This process can last approximately 3 to 12 weeks. The animal has no signs of illness during this time.
- When it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly and passes to the salivary glands. The animal begins to show signs of the disease.
- The infected animal usually dies within 7 days of becoming sick.