Animal Bites and Rabies Prevention
If an animal bites you
Call 503-846-3594. It is very important for you to report the bite! Washington County will provide you with the right resources for assistance and information.
If your dog or cat bites a human
Call 503-846-3594. By law, dogs and cats that bite humans and break skin must be quarantined and observed for a 10-day period to ensure there are no symptoms of rabies. If an animal is up to date on its rabies vaccine, it usually can be observed at home. If an animal is not up to date on its rabies vaccine, or if the bite was a particularly dangerous one, the animal may be required to be quarantined and observed at a licensed veterinarian's office or with Washington County Animal Services. Unless there are serious charges against the dog or its owner, the animal will be returned to the owner at the end of the observation period.
If your dog or cat is exposed to an animal with rabies
Call 503-846-3594. Occasionally, dogs and cats in Oregon are exposed to rabies. This typically happens when a pet comes upon a bat (or a bat flies into the home) and the bat has rabies.
Dogs and cats that are current on their rabies vaccines and are exposed to an animal that is known to have rabies will require a 45-day quarantine/observation period, which can most often be done at home.
Dogs and cats that are not current on their rabies vaccines require a four-month quarantine period during which time they cannot have direct contact with humans or other animals. Many owners choose to euthanize their pets rather than subject them to this quarantine. If you love your pet, be sure it is vaccinated against rabies so you do not face this choice!
People often vaccinate their dogs against rabies, but fail to vaccinate their cats. Cats are more likely to come into contact with bats than dogs. Even indoor cats have been exposed to rabid bats. It is just as important to keep your cat up to date on rabies vaccines as it is your dog.
Rabies is a rare and preventable disease that is primarily spread through animal bites, although it can also be contracted by handling an animal with rabies. If you receive treatment on a timely basis after exposure to rabies, you can expect to be fine. If you do not receive treatment, rabies is fatal. It is vital for you to report any animal bites as soon as they happen. In the past, rabies treatment for humans was a series of extremely painful shots. Today, those shots are not more painful than most vaccines you will receive during your lifetime.
In Oregon, bats are by far the most common carrier of rabies. However, any mammal can have rabies. If you have been bitten by a wild animal of any kind, it is important to seek assistance. It is also important to seek assistance if you have been bitten by a dog or a cat.
Dogs and cats that have bitten someone will be observed for 10 days from the date of the bite for signs of rabies.
If you have been exposed to a bat, call 503-846-3594. If it is determined that your exposure may have been potentially dangerous, Washington County will help you collect the bat and have the bat tested. If you have been bitten by any animal that is now deceased, you should save the carcass for examination (remember to wear gloves if handling an animal carcass).
The best way to prevent rabies is for dogs and cats to be vaccinated against the disease. In countries where rabies is common, it is most often passed to humans by dog bites. Rabies is rare in the United States because most dogs receive rabies vaccines.
Pet owners need to keep their dogs and cats up-to-date on their rabies vaccines in order to keep our community safe!
- Washington County Communicable Diseases - Animal Services and Communicable Diseases work together to help our community on the issues of animal bites and rabies.
- About Rabies - Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Bats and Rabies - Full color, 5 page brochure prepared by the Centers for Disease Control
- Rabies Information for Pet Owners - Oregon Veterinary Medical Association