It is estimated that
one of every two Americans will be
bitten at some time by an animal or by
another person. As it is commonly
interpreted, the term animal bite in
this section refers to a bite by a
mammal, not by an insect or reptile.
Dogs are responsible for about 80% of
all animal-bite injuries.
A virus found
in warm-blooded animals causes rabies.
The disease spreads from one animal to
another in the saliva, usually through
a bite or by licking.
Consider an animal as possibly rabid
if any of the following applies:
. The animal attacked without
. The animal acted strangely, that is,
out of character (eg, a usually
friendly dog is aggressive, or a wild
fox seems docile and "friendly").
. The animal was a high-risk species
(skunk, raccoon, or bat).
What to Do
If the victim
was bitten in the United States (
except for the area along the border
with Mexico) by a healthy domestic dog
or cat, the animal will likely be
confined and observed for 10 days for
any illness. If necessary, a
veterinarian will kill the animal
(domesticated or wild), decapitate it,
and send the head to a laboratory for
analysis. If the animal is dead when
you find it, transport the entire
body; do not attempt decapitation
(precautions must be taken to prevent
exposure to potentially infected
tissues and saliva).
Report animal bites to the police or
animal control officers; they should
be the ones to capture the animal for
observation. If the dog or cat escapes
and is not suspected to be rabid,
consult local public health officials.
If the victim
was bitten in the United States by a
skunk, raccoon, bat, fox, or other
mammal, it should be considered a
rabies exposure and treatment should
be started immediately.
only exception is when the bite
occurred in a part of the continental
United States known to be free of
rabies. If the wild animal is
captured, it should be killed and its
head shipped to a qualified laboratory
2. Clean the wound with a soap
solution and rinse it
with water under pressure.
3. Stop the bleeding and give wound
4. Seek medical attention for further
and a possible tetanus shot. The
physician will determine if sutures
are needed to close the wound. If
needed, a vaccination series against
rabies will be started.