Rabies is virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies (a rabid animal). Any wild mammal, like a skunk, feral cat, fox, coyote or bat can have rabies and transmit it to people.
Because rabies is fatal, the goal of public health is, first, to prevent human exposure to rabies by education and, second, to prevent the disease by anti-rabies treatment if exposure occurs. Tens of thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies.
Rabies is a medical urgency not an emergency, but decisions must not be delayed. Any wounds should be immediately washed and medical attention from a health care professional should be sought for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination.
- Have you been bitten by an animal? Had a close encounter with a bat? Be sure to talk to your local public health department before letting the animal go. Washtenaw County Public Health will help determine if post-exposure vaccination is needed. We take reports of animal bites, coordinate the testing of animals and track which animals have tested positive for rabies in Washtenaw County.
- Rabies Fact Sheet from Washtenaw County Public Health.
- The Humane Society of Huron Valley offers animal rescue, sheltering of stray and abandoned animals, pet adoption, animal vaccination and pet sterilization.
- Did you find a dead bird? The West Nile virus information line is available during the summer months 734-544-6750 or visit the webpage any time.