Animal Bites & Rabies

What to do if you are bitten or scratched by an animal…

  • Observe the following:  type of animal, description of animal, location of animal.
  • Flush out the wound thoroughly with warm soapy water or disinfectant for 15 minutes. Expose wound to sunlight and let dry.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • If the animal is a stray or wild – the district Public Health Inspector will contact you for follow-up to attempt to locate the animal for 10 day observation for rabies. If the animal is owned the owner will be contacted for follow-up.
  • If the animal can’t be located for observation the Medical Health Officer will review the case and contact you regarding the rabies vaccination.

What to expect if you are the owner of an animal that has bitten or scratched someone…

  • The district Public Health Inspector will contact you to review the incident and to determine if your animal is up to date on the rabies vaccination.
  • If the animal is not up to date on their rabies vaccination the Public Health Inspector will ask you to initiate the 10 day isolation of the animal for observation for signs and symptoms of rabies.
  • After 10 days the Public Health Inspector will contact you to determine the health status of the animal.
  • If during the 10 day period your animal exhibits signs and symptoms of rabies (see below) please contact the Public Health Inspector right away. Do not destroy the animal.

Our main goal is to ensure that the animal did not transmit rabies when they bit or scratched. If the animal poses an immediate threat please contact your Public Health Inspector for consulation.


Rabies is a life-threatening virus transmitted to humans from exposure to the saliva of an infected animal.  It is most commonly transmitted through a bite or scratch that exposes tissue and/or nerves. Animals that can transmit rabies include: dogs, cats, bats (ones that eat insects), coyotes, skunks, wolves, raccoons, and livestock (usually cattle). The virus travels through the central nervous system until it reaches the brain.  If the virus reaches the brain, the disease is almost always fatal.  

** Bat exposure is high risk – this is because bats do not always leave a visible mark when they bite.  If you discover a bat in your home or bedroom, isolate the bat in one area.  Contact Public Health if you have concerns about exposure to bats.

 What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rabies?

Initial symptoms:  headache, fever, and general weakness or discomfort. 

 As the disease progresses so do the symptoms: Aggression, excitability to lights & sounds, frothing at the mouth/drooling, hydrophobia (fear of water), inability to swallow, confusion, anxiety, loss of appetite, slight or partial paralysis, insomnia (inability to sleep), hallucinations.  Wild animals may lose their fear of humans.  Death occurs usually in 3-5days after the more progressive symptoms appear.

 How can you prevent rabies?

  •  Vaccinate your pet
  • Take responsibility for your pet, and keep them under your control at all times
  • Avoid contact with stray animals, or animals you are not familiar with
  • Do not feed or handle wild animals
  • Do not provoke animals to become aggressive

Provoking includes: physical abuse, teasing, interfering with feeding, handling an injured animal,   handling new puppies, handling pregnant or new mother, interfering with fighting animals, trespassing, cornering/trapping an animal, etc.


Information on transporting specimens for analysis.

Additional Resources:

World Health Organization:


Government of SK:

Travel Risks for Rabies: