Rabies (cont.)

4. Q: What happens if my pet (cat, dog, ferret) is bitten by a wild animal?

A: Any animal bitten or scratched by either a wild, carnivorous mammal or a bat that is not available for testing should be regarded as having been exposed to rabies. Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released. Animals with expired vaccinations need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated are kept under observation for 45 days.

For information on rabies in domestic ferrets, see: Niezgoda, M., Briggs, D. J., Shaddock, J., Dreesen, D. W., & Rupprecht, C. E. (1997). Pathogenesis of experimentally induced rabies in domestic ferrets. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 58(11), 1327-1331.

5. Q: I am moving to a rabies-free country and want to take my pets with me. Where can I get more information?

A: The details of regulation about importing pets into rabies-free countries vary by country. Check with the embassy of your destination country.

Wild Animals and Rabies

1. Q: What animals get rabies?

A: Any mammal can get rabies. The most common wild reservoirs of rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. Domestic mammals can also get rabies. Cats, cattle, and dogs are the most frequently reported rabid domestic animals in the United States.

2. Q: How can I find out what animals have rabies in my area?

A: Each state collects specific information about rabies, and is the best source for information on rabies in your area. In addition, the CDC publishes rabies surveillance data every year for the United States. The report, entitled Rabies Surveillance in the United States, contains information about the number of cases of rabies reported to CDC during the year, the animals reported rabid, maps showing where cases were reported for wild and domestic animals, and distribution maps showing outbreaks of rabies associated with specific animals. A summary of the report can be found in the Epidemiology section of the CDC web site.