Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain and nervous system. Rabies is found mostly in wildlife, such as skunks, bats, raccoons, coyotes and foxes. Pets can get rabies from infected wildlife. Unvaccinated dogs and cats pose the greatest risk in spreading the disease from wildlife to people. There is still no cure for rabies once symptoms develop, but the disease can be stopped in people if a series of rabies immunizations are given soon after exposure to the virus. Untreated, rabies is almost always fatal in animals and people.
Summit County Public Health can help if you believe you or your pet has been bitten by an infected animal. It's extremely important to seek medical care right away after a bite. Our trained public health sanitarians can help you quickly take the proper steps to get the help you need.
What to do if you're bitten:
- Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and running water.
- DO NOT DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL ADVICE. Go to your family doctor or the nearest emergency room. Call Summit County Public Health (SCPH) at (330) 926-5600 for advice.
- If the animal is retained, call SCPH so the animal can be observed or checked for rabies. Take care to prevent additional bites.
- Obtain the pet owner’s name, address and telephone number. Find out if the animal has a current rabies vaccination and write down the rabies tag and license number.
- If an animal must be killed, do not damage the head. Rabies testing is done on the brain.
- When moving a dead animal, wear gloves and use a shovel. Put the animal’s body in a heavy duty plastic bag and place in a protected area away from people and other animals. If necessary, a dead animal may be kept overnight on ice or in a refrigerator until it can be picked up for testing. Do not freeze. Clean the area and tools with one part bleach to 10 parts water.
Report the bite to SCPH. Call (330) 926-5600
Complete as much of the Animal Bite Reporting Form as possible and fax to (330) 923-6436 within 24 hours.
Summit County Public Health, in conjunction with the USDA Division of Wildlife Services, participates in spring and fall rabies vaccine baiting for raccoons. This operation is in response to raccoons testing positive for rabies in Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties since 2004, breaching the Ohio/Pennsylvania rabies vaccine barrier. For more information on rabies baiting, call (330) 926-5600.
Read these frequently-asked questions about rabies: