Rabies is a virus that in the U. S. is usually transmitted by a bite from a wild infected animal. Raccoons are the most common carriers of rabies in the U. S., but bats are most likely to infect people. An infected animal has the rabies virus in its saliva and can transmit it to a person through biting.
The first symptoms can appear from a few days to more than a year after the bite occurs. One of the most common signs of a rabies infection is a tingling or twitching sensation around the area of the animal bite.
If you or your child has been bitten by an animal, wash the bite area with soap and water for 10 minutes and cover the bite with a clean bandage. Immediately go to the nearest emergency room. Call local animal-control to locate the animal. If you know the owner of the animal, get all the information about the animal, including vaccination status and the owner's name and address. Notify your local health department with the above information.
The Jefferson County Health Department investigates and tests animal specimens for rabies. The health department staff will also inform the public of what procedures to follow after an encounter with a possible rabid animal. The health department also post's the number of positive cases each month on our website.