Animal Bites
and Rabies

Rabies is a serious disease that is caused by a virus. Each year, it kills more than 50,000 people and millions of animals around the world. Any mammal can get rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, and cats can get rabies. Cattle, horses and humans can also get rabies. Animals that are not mammals such as birds, snakes, and fish do not get rabies.

angry dog

All dogs, cats, and ferrets reported to have bitten any person are quarantined by the Local Health Department for ten (10) days for observation. This is done at either the animal owner’s home or a local animal clinic.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets, which stay well during the ten-day period, are released. Those animals, which become sick are sacrificed and tested in the State Rabies Laboratory.

Some general signs of rabies in animals

  • Changes in an animal’s behavior

  • General sickness

  • Problems swallowing

  • Increased drooling

  • Aggression

What to do in Case of an Animal Bite?

Depending on the severity of the bite, call your doctor or go to a hospital emergency room.

Take a description of the animal. If possible, without endangering yourself, confine the animal so it can be quarantined. If euthanized, DO NOT DO ANYTHING WHICH WOULD DAMAGE THE ANIMAL’S HEAD! HEAD MUST BE INTACT FOR TESTING.

Call the Martin County Health Department at 606-298-7752 to begin investigation of the incident.

Center for Disease Control-Rabies