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Rabies is a disease that affects the brain and is caused by a virus. In humans rabies is always fatal.
Rabies is most commonly spread through the bite of an infected (rabid) animal. It is also possible to become infected if the saliva of the infected animal gets directly into an open cut or wound, the eyes, mouth, or nose.
Any mammal, wild or domestic can carry the rabies virus. Wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes are much more likely to carry rabies. However, pets or farm animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, or horses can pass rabies on to people as well.
To prevent the spread of rabies many pets such as dogs, cats, and ferrets are vaccinated for the disease. If there is ever a bite exposure it will be important to know the animal’s vaccination status.
Following any bite by a rabid animal it is important to immediately wash the area with soap and water. Jasper County Health Department recommends that you report the animal bite with Jasper County Humane Society Animal Control and then immediately contact your physician.
Yes. In fact most rabies cases today are caused by the rabies virus carried by bats. If you are bitten by a bat, wash the area and contact your doctor, as you would if bitten by any other animal. Whenever possible, the bat should be caught and sent to a laboratory for testing. The tricky part is that while most people know they have been bitten, in some cases bat bites may not be easily seen or felt. If you awaken to find a bat in your room, the room of an unattended child, a person who is mentally impaired, or an intoxicated person you should contact your doctor.
Learn more about what to do in situations involving bats visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Your doctor will work with you to determine your level of exposure and whether or not treatment will be needed. Your doctor will use tools and resources available through Jasper County Health Department and the Iowa Department of Public Health to help make this decision.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Iowa Department of Public Health are good sources of Rabies information.
State of Iowa Code, Chapter 351, Dogs and Other Animals
Jasper County Ordinance JC-44A (PDF)