PROGRAM GOAL: To prevent human cases of rabies by thoroughly investigating all reported animal bites, and by reducing the incidence of animal bites.
PROGRAM RESPONSIBILITY: The Board of Health is charged with the enforcement authority of Ohio Administrative Code 3701-3-28, through 3701-3-30. These sections cover the quarantine, vaccination and examination of animals involved in reported biting incidents.
The Rabies Control Program includes:
- Investigation of all animal bites
- Quarantine enforcement
- Laboratory examination
- Furnish rabies post-exposure vaccine
- Below is more information on Rabies Prevention.
- Protect Yourself From Rabies
What is Rabies?
Rabies is an acute viral disease that attacks the nervous system of warm-blooded animals. The present raccoon rabies epidemic was first confirmed in the Mid-Atlantic and North-eastern state in 1977, and has continued to spread to other states.
How is it Spread?
Rabies is most often spread from animal to animal or animal to humans, through bites, cuts or scratches. 600 to 700 animal bites are reported in Lake County each year. In Lake County, 50% of all animal bites occur among persons aged 17 or less. 25% of all bites occur among elementary aged children. The rabies virus passes from the sick animal’s saliva through the wound into the victim’s skin. Any warm-blooded animal can contract the illness; however, typical wildlife rabies is spread by raccoons, skunks, bats, and fox. Since 1979, seven rabid animals (all bats) have been found in Lake County. Infected wild animals can pass rabies to pets. Animals which are very rarely affected are rats, mice, squirrels, hamsters, and rabbits.
What are the Symptoms in Humans?
Early symptoms include pain or numbness at the site of the bite, fever, sore throat, nausea, abdominal pain, paralysis, spasms of throat, convulsions, coma and death. When started in time, rabies treatment allows our bodies to fight the virus. Fortunately, few human cases of rabies are reported (1 case in Ohio since 1970 and 32 cases in the U.S. since 1980).
How do I know an Animal is Rabid?
Un-vaccinated or stray domestic animals are still the greatest threat to humans. Animals who exhibit unusual or abnormal behavior should be considered a risk. Rabid animals may stagger, appear restless, change the tone of their bark or growl, appear to be choking, or become excitable/irritable or aggressive. Any unfamiliar animal, wild or domestic, acting in a strange or unusual manner should be treated with caution – and avoided.
What Precautions Should I Take?
- Vaccinate pets regularly.
- Do not feed or handle any wild or domestic animals, especially those that act in an unusual manner.
- Teach children to stay away from wild animals and unknown cats and dogs, and to tell you if they have been scratched or bitten by an animal.
- If bitten or scratched, see your doctor and report the bite to the Lake County General Health District.
- Avoid touching dead animals.
- Keep lids on garbage cans and secure trash.
- Feed pets indoors and never leave them unattended outdoors.
- Report contacts between your pets and wild animals to your veterinarian and/or the Lake County General Health District.
What Do I Do If Bitten?
Immediately, wash the wound with lots of soap and water.
See your doctor and follow the recommendations.
If it can be done safely, try to detain or hold the animal, so it can be quarantined/tested for rabies. Avoid injuring the head of the animal.
Report the bite to the Lake County General Health District and provide the following information:
- Type and description of the animal
- If it was a pet, did it have a collar or tags and where it lives
- How the bite occurred
- Whether the animal has been seen in the area before
How is Rabies Treated?
There is still no cure for rabies once symptoms develop. The disease can be stopped in people, if a series of rabies immunizations are given soon after the exposure to the virus. Untreated, rabies is almost always fatal in both humans and animals.
Information needed to Report Animal Bites
Animal bites should be reported to the Health District within 24 hours of the incident. The Lake County General Health District is open from 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday-Friday.
Painesville – 350-2543
Cleveland – 918-2543
Madison – 428-4348
TTY – 350-2868
Fax – 350-2548
When reporting an animal bite, the following information should be provided:
- Date of the Bite
- Name of Person Bitten
- Age of Person Bitten
- Phone Number of Person Bitten
- Address of Person Bitten
- Part of Body affected
- If Minor, Parent’s Name
- Treatment Received
- Physician’s Name
- For Dog, Cat, or other bites by pets the following information should be provided:
- Owner’s name
- Owner’s Phone Number
- Owner’s Address
- Date Rabies Shot Given
- Veterinarian’s Name
- Veterinarian’s Phone Number
- Animal’s Name