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Indiana State Department of Health

Indiana State Department of Health

ISDH Home > Public Health Protection & Laboratory Services > Epidemiology Resource Center (ERC) > Infectious Disease Epidemiology > Diseases and Conditions Resource Page > Rabies Rabies

About... Rabies

What do I do if an animal bites me?

  • Wash the bite with lots of soap and running water.
  • Call a doctor to see if antibiotics or a tetanus shot are   needed.
  • Report bite to your local health department.

What are my chances of getting rabies from an animal bite?

Getting rabies is unlikely. Most animals with rabies (skunks, bats) are wild. Any wild animal could have rabies, but rodents, rabbits, and squirrels almost never do. The last known cat in Indiana with rabies was in 1984; the last known dog was in 1989.

How is rabies spread?

Rabies is spread when saliva containing the rabies virus gets into broken skin.

Can I tell if an animal has rabies?

No, but stay away from wildlife and animals acting strangely. They could
have rabies.

What should be done with the animal that bit me or someone I care about?

A dog or cat can be held for 10 days. If it doesn't get sick, it didn't have rabies.
If a wild animal or a stray dog or cat bites someone, it can be put to sleep and
the head sent to the Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory to be tested for rabies.

What if the biting animal isn't available for observation or testing?

The patient, the doctor, and the local health department will decide together if they think the animal might have rabies and if the patient should be treated with the rabies vaccine.

What are the rabies shots like?

The vaccine is given in a series of shots over a 5 week period. Unlike in the past when rabies shots were to be feared, today they cause only minor discomfort.

Where can I get more information?

You may call your doctor or local health department for information on animal bites and rabies.

More information on rabies

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