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Health Department

 

Health

Animal Bites and Rabies

 

Even if you own the animal or know the owner, it’s important to report all animal bites to us.  We’ll help you figure out the risk for rabies or other illnesses from the bite.

If you or your pet is bitten

If you or your pet is bitten, wash the bite well with soap and water right away.  If you are injured, see a health care provider as soon as possible.  If your pet is injured, they should see their veterinarian as soon as possible.  Report the bite.  For more information on Animal Bites, click here: Dog-Cat Bites. For information on how rabies is transmitted, click here:  Clinical Overview of Rabies | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How to report a bite

It is important to find the animal that bit you or your pet.  We need to know if it has been vaccinated for rabies or has rabies.  Call dispatch at (608)782-7575 and say you are calling to report an animal bite.  If you do not know the animal's owner, or it was a stray or wild animal, tell them as much as you can to help us find it.  Include what it looked like, where you saw it, and if you've seen the animal before.  For more information on Animal Bites, click here: Dog-Cat Bites

If you or your pet is bitten by a dog or cat

Check to see if the bite broke the skin before the owner leaves.  Do not wait to check until you get home.  Ask the owner to call their vet to find out if the pet is up to date on rabies shots.  Exchange names and phone numbers with the pet's owner.  Any dog or cat that bites will be quarantined for 10 days and checked by a trained observer for signs of rabies.  If there are no signs of rabies after 10 days, you and/or your pet do not need post exposure rabies shots.  If you can't find the animal that bit you, or it shows signs of rabies, you need to see a healthcare provider for treatment.  For more information, click on this link:  Rabies Algorithm | Wisconsin Department of Health Services

If you are bitten by a wild animal

Try to capture the animal.  Be careful so it doesn't bite you again.  If you need to kill the animal, do not damage the head.  The animal will be sent to a lab for rabies testing, and the lab uses the head for the rabies test.  Keep the animal cool until you can drop it off or have it picked up.  If the rabies test is positive, you should get rabies shots as soon as possible.  If the rabies test is negative, you did not get rabies from the bite.  If the animal wasn't captured, or if the rabies test was indeterminate, talk to a healthcare provider.  You may need rabies shots as soon as possible.

If your pet is bitten by a wild animal

Try to capture the animal.  Be careful so it doesn't bite you again.  If you need to kill the animal, do not damage the head.  The animal will be sent to a lab for rabies testing, and the lab uses the head for the rabies test.  Keep the animal cool until you can drop it off or have it picked up.  Your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  You may need to quarantine your pet.  It must be kept at home and away from other animals and have limited contact with humans.  There are two types of quarantine for pets that may have been exposed to rabies:

  • 60-day quarantine - If your pet has had its rabies shots, it will be in a 60-day quarantine. It will immediately get an additional rabies shot.
  • 6-month quarantine - If your pet has not had its rabies shots, it will be in a 6-month quarantine.  It will get an additional rabies shot in the 5th month of quarantine.  Your pet will need to be tested if the vet thinks it has rabies.

Protect yourself and your pets from rabies

In Wisconsin all dogs are required to be vaccinated, and in La Crosse County cats may also be required to be vaccinated.  Avoid wild animals and block them from getting into your home by filling openings.  Close lids tightly on garbage cans so animals are not attracted to them.  Avoid animals you do not know and familiarize yourself with symptoms of rabies.  Learn how to prevent dog bites.  For more information, click on the following links:

Rabies Algorithm | Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Submitting Specimens for Rabies Testing | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dog bite prevention | American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org)

 

 

 




PHAB

Health Department Office Location
2nd Floor, 300 4th St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601

Main Business Phone: 608-785-9872
Main Fax: 608-785-9846
Email:
[email protected]
In a public health emergency call 911
WI Relay Service and Interpretation Services Available

Office Hours: 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday; some service hours may vary


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