ATTENTION: If you have reached this page after being bitten by any animal, contact Richland Public Health at 419-774-4520 and ask for Sanitarian who does rabies investigations. You will be advised to seek proper medical attention. (The Public Health Clinic at the Health Department is available for bite victims without a personal physician). The sanitarian will then begin an investigation.
Note: Wound cleansing is especially important in rabies prevention. Gently wash the bite area with water and seek medical attention immediately. Tetanus shots should be administered if you have not been immunized in ten years. Decisions regarding the use of antibiotics, and primary wound closure, should be decided after talking with your physician or health care provider.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies (a rabid animal). Any wild mammal, like raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to people. Because rabies is a fatal disease, the goal of public health is to prevent and control the spread of rabies by conducting rabies investigations for every animal bite in the County. The program also hosts a rabies vaccination clinic to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Richland Public Health, with the help of the Rabies Program, enforces all rules and laws for rabies control set forth by the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code.
All animal bites occurring in Richland County are required to be reported to Richland Public Health. When a bite is reported, a Health Department Sanitarian will advise that the victim seek proper medical attention. The Public Health Clinic located at the Health Department is available for victims with no medical assistance. The Sanitarian will then immediately begin investigating the case for rabies. The first step required by the Ohio Administrative Code is to quarantine the animal involved in a biting incident for a minimum period of 10 days from the day of the bite. The animal must be isolated and enclosed in a restricted area during the quarantine under the owners control or at a pound or kennel. The animal owner is responsible for any costs associated with the quarantine. If the animal becomes ill, dies, is lost or is relocated during the period of quarantine, the animal owner is responsible to notify the Health Department immediately. If symptoms suggestive of illness are present during the quarantine period, the Health Department will require, at your expense, the animal to be submitted for veterinary examination. During the quarantine period, the animal owner must provide documentation which demonstrates active immunization of the animal against rabies. If immunization is not current, the animal shall be properly vaccinated, and documentation to the Health Department, shall be be provided prior to the removal of quarantine. The animal shall not be immunized until released for immunization by the department. Upon confirmation of immunization, the department will lift the quarantine and complete a release notice. Failure to comply with the provisions of Section 3701-3-29, Ohio Administrative Code, is a violation of Section 3709.21, Ohio Revised Code, and will be prosecuted in accordance with Section 3709.99, Ohio Revised Code.
Symptoms of Clinical Rabies in Humans
Pain or numbness at the site of the bite, fever, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. In some individuals, early nervous system involvement may be indicated by the presence of apprehension, anxiety, agitation, nervousness, insomnia, or depression. Symptoms rapidly progress, usually in a matter of days, to include paralysis, spasms of the throat, delirium, hallucinations, coma, cardiac arrhythmia, and finally DEATH. In humans it can take as little as 9 days or as long as 1 year for the symptoms of rabies to appear. Most people who get rabies however, develop symptoms within 60 days of being exposed.
How Do I Know If An Animal Is Rabid?
Most people think rabid animals can easily be spotted because they always drool excessively and foam at the mouth. In fact, most animals will display these symptoms only during the latter stages of infection, and sometimes not even then. A better way to identify animals that pose a risk is to recognize unusual or abnormal behavior. Rabid animals, wild or domestic, may stagger, appear restless, be aggressive, change the tone of their barks or growls, or appear to be choking. Wild animals sometimes lose their fear of humans and act friendly. Animals that usually are active at night may become more active during the day. Passive animals sometimes become fierce and aggressive.
Once a year, local veterinarians in cooperation with Richland Public Health host a rabies immunization clinic. Richland County residents are encouraged to have their pet dog or cat vaccinated against this deadly disease. Rabies shots are available free of charge or at reduced rates during this special clinic.
Additional information about rabies is also available at the Center for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/
The CDC also has a new site to teach kids about the dangers of rabies at www.cdc.gov/rabiesandkids/