Knox County averages around 100 reported incidents of animal bites each year. In 2011, the Knox County Health Department investigated 158 incidents, the highest number ever reported. The majority of these incidents involved dogs. Other cases included cats, ferrets, raccoons and bats. The reason the health department becomes involved in animal bites is that it’s the law. According to Ohio Administrative Code 3701-3-28, “Whenever a person is bitten by a dog or other mammal, report of such bite shall be made within 24 hours to the health commissioner of the district in which the bite occurred.” If you have been bitten by an animal or know someone who has, please report the incident to the Knox County Health Department. If you go to the hospital or contact local law enforcement to file a report, they will also report the incident to the health department. If you need to report an incident, download a animal bite report form.
What We Do
The Knox County Health Department is required to quarantine all dogs, cats and ferrets that bite people. The quarantine is for 10 days and is most typically done at the animal owner’s home. The purpose of the quarantine is to ensure that the biting animal does not have rabies. If the biting animal has rabies at the time it bit someone, the symptoms of rabies will be seen in that dog, cat or ferret within 10 days following the bite
What to do if you are bitten or scratched by an animal
- Thoroughly clean the wound area with soap and water and cover with a clean dressing or bandage;
- Immediately seek medical care with your family doctor, urgent care or emergency room. Many bites are puncture wounds that can easily become infected if not cared for properly;
- Try to obtain information about the animal’s owner including name, address and telephone number;
- Try to obtain information about the biting animal such as the type of animal, color, breed, name and rabies tag;
- Make sure that the healthcare provider reports the animal bite to the Knox County Health Department, if not please contact the Knox County Health Department at 740-392-2200, Ext. 2226, to file an animal bite report
Check out this brochure on how to avoid getting bit by a dog.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The virus travels through the central nervous system to the brain. Once it reaches the brain, the disease nearly always causes death. This is a disease that is preventable in several ways; keeping our pets currently vaccinated against rabies, avoiding encounters with wild animals like bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes, and if bitten by a rabid animal seek immediate medical attention and rabies treatment.
How is rabies spread?
Rabies is spread or transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal to another animal or human. Usually, this happens through a bite that breaks the skin or contact with saliva into an open scratch or wound. On very rare occasions, it is has been documented that it can be spread if someone’s eyes, nose or mouth comes in contact with saliva of a rabid animal.
What animals can have rabies?
In Ohio, the most common animals to have rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Bats have been the only animal to test positive for rabies in Knox County over the last 30 years. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the last domestic animal to test positive was a dog in 1966. One reason we do not often see rabies in domestic animals and pets is because of the availability and inexpensive cost of rabies vaccination.
What happens if my pet dog or cat is suspected of rabies?
At the end of the 10 day quarantine period, a Knox County Health Department Environmental sanitarian will conduct a field visit to the animal’s location to observe the animal for any visual symptoms of Rabies. The sanitarian shall question the owner to determine if the animal has been eating and drinking normally and exhibiting no strange behavior. If the animal exhibits any visual symptoms of rabies, a behavior pattern different from what was observed prior to quarantine, or has not been eating or drinking during quarantine, the environmental sanitarian will issue an order to the owner to transport the animal to a veterinarian for clinical examination. The veterinarian shall determine if the quarantine shall continue under clinical supervision, or whether the animal shall be euthanized for Rabies testing.
What’s my risk with bats and rabies?
Currently, bats are the only animal to test positive for rabies in Knox County, therefore it is important to understand the risks associated with bat encounters. Examples of situations where there is a probability of rabies exposure:
- Direct contact with a bat such as handling a bat, having a bat hit or fly into you or seeing marks on your skin after coming in contact with a bat;
- Unknown contact with a bat such as waking up and seeing a bat in the room with you, finding a bat near a young child either outside or in a room or building;
- Check out this additional information on bat encounters and determining rabies risk.
- If you feel you have been exposed to a bat, please seek immediate medical attention at a local emergency room and explain to them that you may have been exposed to a bat;
- If the bat is seen and be captured, that is always best so that the bat can be tested. If you do not feel that you can capture the bat, please call a wildlife specialist.
- Do not take a captured bat into the urgent care or emergency room; they do not test bats for rabies. Please call the Knox County Health Department for testing arrangements.
CDC Rabies Homepage
Ohio Department of Health Rabies Program
How to Safely Catch a Bat, New York State Department of Health
Ohio Department of Health Rabies Distribution Maps
Ohio Department of Health Rabies Post Exposure Treatment Flow Chart