Overview

Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system. Any warm-blooded mammal, including humans, can get rabies; however, bats are the only animal in Washington state known to carry rabies. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal. It is usually spread to humans by animal bites and can also be spread if the virus comes in contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, open cuts, or wounds.


Basics

It’s important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency but not an emergency. Decisions should not be delayed.

Wash any wounds immediately. One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

See a health care provider to help determine if there is a need for rabies vaccination. Health care providers work with Spokane Regional Health District to decide if a rabies vaccination. Decisions to start vaccination, known as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), will be based on your type of exposure and the animal you were exposed to, as well as laboratory and surveillance information for the geographic area where the exposure occurred.

In the United States, postexposure prophylaxis consists of a regimen of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period. Rabies immune globulin and the first dose of rabies vaccine should be given by your health care provider as soon as possible after exposure. Additional doses or rabies vaccine should be given on days 3, 7, and 14 after the first vaccination. Current vaccines are relatively painless and are given in your arm, like a flu or tetanus vaccine.

Report an Animal Bite


Resources

Download SRHD's Rabies Prevention and Animal Bites handout (English, Spanish, Russian) for:

  • More information about rabies prevention
  • Steps to take if an individual or pet has been involved in a bite
  • What to do if a bat is found in house or if there is contact with another wild animal

More information
Washington Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Pets
Bats and Rabies Prevention
Rabies Activity in Washington
CDC Rabies Page

Vaccinate Pets Against Rabies

Rabies vaccinations are required for dogs, cats and ferrets in Washington state. They’re one of the best ways to protect people and pets from rabies.

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Communicable Disease Epidemiology for Healthcare Providers

Working with providers on the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases, illnesses and other factors relating to health.

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