Each year in Clermont County more than 300 potential rabies exposures are reported to Clermont County Public Health. Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. The exposure is usually through a bite, but scratches and saliva contact are also possible routes of transmission for this virus.
The most effective rabies prevention is an immediate thorough cleansing of the area with soap and water. A physician should then be contacted to determine if treatment is necessary. Although this virus is nearly always fatal if contracted, it is very fragile. Exposures to drying, sunlight, heat or detergent render it noninfective.
All exposures should be reported to Clermont County Public Health within 24 hours. This is important so Public Health can locate the animal and implement quarantine. A healthy dog or cat that bites or otherwise exposes a person should be quarantined for 10 days from the date of the exposure. The quarantine period is based on the length of time that the virus may be excreted in the saliva prior to the onset of rabies symptoms. If the dog or cat shows no clinical signs of rabies during the quarantine period, it should be examined by a licensed veterinarian and declared free from rabies. If the animal does not have a current rabies vaccination, the vaccine should be given at that time. Rabies vaccine should not be administered to the animal during quarantine. If any signs of illness occur during quarantine, it should be reported to Clermont County Public Health and the animal evaluated by a veterinarian immediately. If clinical signs are suggestive of rabies, the animal should be humanely killed and tested for rabies.
A stray dog or cat that bites a person may be humanely killed and tested or held for a 10-day quarantine. If it is healthy at the end of the quarantine there is no reason to test for rabies.
There is no recommended observation or quarantine period for wild and exotic animals because the incubation period and length of viral shedding in the saliva of these species are unknown. As a result, high-risk wildlife, as well as the offspring of wild animals crossbred with domestic dogs and cats, that bite a human should be humanely killed and tested for rabies. In 2000, a bat that tested positive for rabies was found in Clermont County. This bat was found by a puppy in its yard. Since the puppy was too young to vaccinate, it was humanely killed. Bats are considered a high risk for carrying rabies. Any bat that bites a person or a domestic animal should be killed and sent for testing. Post-exposure treatment is indicated for any person bitten or scratched by a bat when the bat is unavailable for testing. Treatment is also indicated, even in the absence of a known direct contact, if the bat was found near an unattended child, sleeping individual or a person that is intoxicated or mentally impaired.
Exposure to rabies may be minimized by eliminating stray dogs and cats, having pet dogs and cats vaccinated, staying away from wild animals, avoid keeping exotic and wild animals as pets and securing houses and surrounding structures to prevent bats from coming into direct association with humans.
If you have any questions concerning the rabies program please contact us.