When bitten by an animal, most people want to know if they need a rabies shot. The main wild animal carriers of rabies are raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Pet dogs and cats that have been vaccinated rarely have rabies. However, many stray animals have not been vaccinated rarely have rabies. However, many stray animals have not been vaccinated. Rabies is quite rare, but is fatal if not treated. the treatment is no more painful than a typical injection. Report all wild animal bites to your doctor or health department. Bites that break the skin can cause bacterial infections. Cat and human bites are particularly prone to infection. Tetanus can occur if shots are not up to date.

Prevention:

  • Vaccinate all pets against rabies. Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Do not disturb animals while they are eating, even your family pet.
  • Teach children not to approach or play with stray dogs and cats.
  • Do not touch wild animals or provoke them to attack. Do not handle sick or injured animals.

Home Treatment:

  • Scrub the bite immediately with soap and water. Treat it as a puncture wound.
  • If you are bitten by a pet dog or cat, find out whether it has been vaccinated for rabies.
  • A healthy pet that has bitten someone should be confined and observed for 10 days to see if it develops symptoms of rabies. If the owner cannot be located or relied on to confine and watch the animal, contact the local health department.
  • If you are bitten by a wild animal, contact the health department. They can tell you whether that animal is a rabies carrier in your area, and whether treatment is needed.

When to Call a Health Professional:

  • If the bite is from a wild animal.
  • If the bite is from a dog or cat that is acting strangely, foaming at the mouth, or if it attacked for no apparent reason.
  • If the bite is from a pet whose owner cannot confirm that it has been vaccinated for rabies.
  • If the bite is severe and may need stitches, or if it is on the hand or face.
  • If signs of infection develop:
  1. Increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness.
  2. Heat or red streaks extending from the bite.
  3. Discharge of pus
  4. Fever of 100 degrees or higher with no other cause.