Rabies is a fatal viral infection that is transmitted primarily through bite wounds. Skunks, bats, raccoons, and foxes are the primary carriers. Rabies is also fatal to humans. Puppies and kittens are vaccinated after they are three months of age and then one year later.  Subsequently, inOhio, the vaccine is required every three years. Cats and dogs that live completely indoors are not exempted from this requirement.

If any pet or wild animal-regardless of the animal’s vaccine status-bites a person, Ohio law dictates that the health department must be notified.  The animal that did the biting should be apprehended, if this can be done in a manner that does not endanger anyone further, and the health department should be contacted immediately. This applies to both wild and pet animals. Wild animals, if they are caught, will be submitted for rabies testing. Pet animals are treated differently.

In Ohio, the law states that the offending pet animal must be quarantined for ten days after the bite.  If the pet had rabies, the virus would migrate to the brain within that 10 day period and the animal would either show signs of illness or die from the disease. This would obviously be an indication to start rabies therapy on the person who was bitten or to do further testing on the animal. This does not hold true for rabid bat bites, however.

A test can be done to see if rabies is present, but it does require the animal be euthanized. The rabies test can be done only on the brain.  Rabies is preventable through regular vaccination of dogs and cats.