Rabies Control Program
Wisconsin Statute 254 requires that the Health Department investigate all animal bites/exposures involving humans. Public Health Nurses provide education regarding the need for medical treatment and animal quarantine or humane euthanization.
In Washburn County, vaccinated animals that bite may be quarantined for 10 days at home under Ag. 13 Regulations (providing they can secure the animal safely). The animal is observed by the trained observer (Public Health Nurses) twice during the 10 days. This allows pet owners to keep the animal home avoiding added veterinary observation cost. Home quarantine is up to the discretion of the nurse and the status of the home quarantine facility.
A Guide for Victims of Animal Bites
- Immediately wash the bite with soap and water to reduce the risk of rabies.
- See your doctor.
- You will need a tetanus/diphtheria booster if it has been more than 5 years since your last one.
- You may need antibiotics, as animal bites frequently cause infection.
- You may need rabies shots if the animal that bit you is not available for quarantine or rabies testing. Rabies is fatal and vaccine should be started within 72 hours.
- Report the bite by calling the Health Department at 635-4400 or law enforcement.
- If the animal is domestic (ex: dog or cat) the Health Department will quarantine the animal for 10 days. If the animal shows any symptoms of rabies, you will be notified so you can begin the rabies vaccine. The animal will be euthanized and the brain sent in for testing. If the results are negative, the vaccine can be stopped.
- If the animal is wild (ex: raccoon, skunk, fox, bat, wolf hybrid) and was not captured, you should contact your doctor immediately to start the rabies vaccine.
- If the animal is wild and has been captured, call the Spooner Veterinary Clinic at 635-2874 to arrange for the animal to be sacrificed and sent in for rabies testing. Do not kill the animal unless it is the only way to capture it. Do not damage the head, as the brain must be intact for rabies testing. Refrigerate (do not freeze) the dead animal until it can be taken to the Spooner Veterinary Clinic.
When Your Pet Bites
Wisconsin State Law (SS95.21) requires that any cat or dog that bites a person be quarantined for 10 days so that it can be observed for signs of rabies – regardless of vaccine status. Rabies is a fatal disease that is transmitted by the saliva of an infected warm-blooded animal. Animals infected with rabies at the time of the bite will show symptoms within 10 days.
- Report the bite by calling the Health Department at 635-4400 or local law enforcement.
- Vaccinated animals must be kept away from humans and in a confined area. Example: a kennel, cage, or garage if the animal is on a chain (not a rope). The animal must be chained if there is no top to the confined area and must not be able to reach the sides.
- The animal can be taken outside by the owner on a chain (not a rope) to urinate or defecate. During this time, the animal must have no other human exposure.
- A public health nurse or a trained animal observer will inspect the animal two times during the quarantine. The animal will remain in quarantine until the trained observer releases it. The owner must be available for the inspection during Health Department working hours (Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm) or the animal must be quarantined at a veterinarian clinic.
- If the animal's behavior changes, (i.e. becomes aggressive, lame, will not get up, eat, etc) a public health nurse or trained animal observer MUST BE NOTIFIED IMMEDIATELY.
- While the animal is in quarantine, it cannot be removed from the premises or killed. The animal cannot leave the county. The animal cannot be sold or given away to anyone.
- A fine of $100 - $1,000 or 60 days imprisonment (or both) may be assessed for failure to comply with a quarantine order.
Prevent Dog Bites
- Consult with a professional (ie: veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) before choosing a dog to determine an appropriate breed on the basis of the owner’s lifestyle and environment.
- Exclude dogs with histories of aggression from households with children.
- Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog, and if so, delay getting a dog.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.
- Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home of an infant or toddler.
- Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).
- Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- Properly socialize or train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (ie: rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling).
- Seek professional advice (ie: veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) immediately if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
- Do not play aggressive games (ie: wrestling) with a dog.
- Teach children basic safety around dogs and review regularly:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Never run from a dog or scream.
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog (ie: "be still like a tree").
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
- Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult immediately.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, tell an adult immediately.
Web Resources: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0254.pdf