Animal Bites & Rabies
Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that affects mammals. It spreads to people, pets and wild animals by being bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and fox. Domesticated dogs can also contract and spread rabies but it is not as common in the United States.
The rabies virus infects the nervous system of animals and people. If a person is exposed by bite or scratch to a rabid animal, immediate and appropriate medical care is necessary. If immediate care is not received, people develop the disease in the brain and it ultimately results in death.
Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, not touching wildlife and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
I have been exposed to a rabid (or potentially rabid) animal what do I do?
Wash any wounds immediately with soap and water then seek care with a health care provider. Do not delay. Health care providers will assess and possibly provide post-exposure prophylaxis to stop the virus from spreading and causing symptoms. There is no treatment for rabies once symptoms start, it is 100% fatal so getting care before you have symptoms is very important.
How do I prevent getting rabies?
- Vaccinate your dogs and cats for rabies.
- Do not touch wild animals. Wild animals belong in nature, not in your hands.
- Know the symptoms of a rabid animal, you can see a list of symptoms here.
What do I do if I or my pet comes across a sick or dead bat, raccoon, fox or skunk?
- DO NOT TOUCH IT!
- If it is is in your home, avoid contact.
- If a bat is in your home, read here and/or here for how to safely remove and/or capture the bat for testing.
Resources & Additional Information
- General Animal Control resources can be found by calling the Douglas County Sheriff’s office at 541-440-4327 or visiting their website here.
- You can also call Douglas County Environmental Health at 541-440-3574 or visit their website here.
- Local resources on animal bites and reporting them are also on the Douglas County Animal Control page here.
- If your dog bites you or another person and you need immediate medical care, please seek care at your health care providers office or Urgent Care. Call 911 if you need emergency assistance. You can also visit the Animal Control site here or call Animal Control at 541-440-4328.
- You can find a form to report an animal bite here.
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has tips for what to do if you come across a sick or injured wild animal here.
Rodent and Pest Bites
Bites from rodents can also cause disease. Rats and mice can carry and spread dozens of different diseases and are spread through bites, breathing urine or droppings and contaminated water and food.
Local resources on pest control and diseases transmitted by rodents can be found on the Douglas County Environmental Health page here.