All animal bites sustained to people and/or other animals – from any animal which can carry rabies – should be reported to Jefferson County Animal Control by calling (304) 725-8484.
Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal or by contact with the saliva. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. However, any mammal can contract rabies. Cases have been reported in: Dogs, Cats, Deer, Woodchucks, Cows, Horses, Rabbits, Mongoose, Opossums, Coyotes, Wolves, and Monkeys. Here in Jefferson County we do have positive cases among feral cats.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
If you have been bitten and/or scratched
- Do not panic . . . but do not ignore the bite either. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water.
- It is critically important that you seek medical advice immediately, if you believe you may have been exposed to rabies through a bite or non-bite contact with the saliva of a suspected animal.
- Do not try to pick the animal up. Take note of any identifiable coloring or markings before it runs away. Report the bite to Animal Control at (304) 725-8484, if it occurred in Jefferson County. Bites occurring in other counties should be reported to the County Health Department where the bite occurred.
- If it is a wild animal that must be killed, do not damage the head. The brain will be needed to test for rabies. Do not let anyone destroy wild animals at random just because there may be a rabies case in your area. Only a few wild animals will be carrying rabies.
If your pet has been attacked by a wild animal
- Contact Animal Control at (304) 725-8484 to report the incident.
- The Animal Control Officer will advise you on the appropriate steps, depending on the specifics of your case.
- If you must kill the attacking animal to stop the attack, be careful not to damage its head. The brain will be needed to test for rabies. Contact Animal Control at the number above so they can retrieve the remains for testing.
If your pet has bitten someone
- Tell the person bitten to seek medical attention immediately.
- Report the bite to Animal Control at (304) 725-8484.
- Do not let your pet stray, and do not give your pet away. It must be available for quarantine or observation.
- Do not kill your pet or allow it to be killed unless you have been instructed to do so by the public health authorities.
- Check with your veterinarian to find out if your pet has a current vaccination.
What you can do to help control rabies
- Have your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock vaccinated. Keep their vaccinations up to date.
- If your vaccinated pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal be sure your pet receives a booster vaccination immediately. Be sure to alert the vet that your pet has been bitten by a wild animal.
- Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property or on a leash.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.
- Remember. . . wild animals should not be kept as pets. Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame.
- If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to the Department of Natural Resources at 304-822-3551. Do not go near it yourself!