Rabies- What you Need to Know

Information and Prevention

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to pets and humans by bites, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. Treatment of an infected person is critical. Untreated, rabies causes a painful death.

Most animals can be infected by the virus and can transmit the disease to man. Infected bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, dogs, or cats provide the greatest risk to humans. Rabies may also spread through exposure to infected domestic farm animals, groundhogs, weasels, and other wild carnivores. Squirrels, rodents, and rabbits are seldom infected.

What To Do If Bitten?

  1. If you are bitten by a wild animal: an animal control officer should sacrifice the animal. All biting wild animals should be tested for rabies as soon as possible.
    If you are bitten by a cat or dog:obtain information about the pet. Include a description of the animal and licensing number or identification, owner’s name, address, and telephone number and the rabies vaccination status whenever possible.
  2. Immediately cleanse the wound thoroughly with soapy water.
  3. Get medical attention. Go to your family doctor or nearest emergency room. Do not delay calling. You may need treatment.
  4. Report all bites to your local health department or animal control agency.

For information on free or low-cost rabies clinics for your cat or dog, contact your municipal health department.

Printable flyer on Rabies in PDF

For more in-depth information on rabies you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/ or www.avma.org

The above information was compiled with the assistance of the Consumer Health Division, New Jersey Department of Health and the state of California Veterinary Public Health Department.