Rabies Control

What is rabies?

  • Rabies is a fatal but preventable virus that can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.
  • The rabies virus infects the central nervous system causing disease in the brain which results in death.
  • Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, avoiding wildlife, and seeking medical care after a potential exposure


How is rabies treated?

Rabies is treated by using rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP consists of a dose of human rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine given on the day of rabies exposure and then a dose of vaccine is given again on days 3,7, and 14. PEP is recommended for both bite and non-bite exposures, even if not started on day of exposure.

The initial dose of PEP can only be administered at local hospital emergency departments. Subsequent doses of the vaccine can be administered anywhere the vaccine is available such local pharmacies. Updated PEP guidance for healthcare providers.


Preventing rabies in pets

Your dog, cat or ferret must be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age. The vaccination tags must be worn on the pet’s collar.


Licensing

Every dog, cat and ferret in Louisville Metro must be licensed and wear the license on its collar at all times. Contact the Metro Animal Services at 502-361-1318 for details on licensing requirements.


Dog, cat and ferret bites

If your pet bites or scratches someone, you must report the bite to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. Call 502.574.6650 or email [email protected]

We may issue an order to quarantine your pet and we will review detailed instructions on what you are required to do. Please advise us if you choose to have your pet quarantined in a different location other than your home or if you choose to have it quarantined at the Metro Animal Services facility.

Upon completion of the 10-day quarantine period, a representative from Department of Public Health will visit your home to release your pet from quarantine. The pet will be released only if it appears healthy. If your pet has never been vaccinated against rabies or does not have a current vaccination, you will be issued an order to get your pet vaccinated against rabies.  Do not vaccinate your animal during the quarantine period.

​​​​​Bats and Rabies

Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States. People and domestic animals should avoid contact with bats. Most bats do not have rabies, the incidence rate of rabies in bats is <1%. A bat that is active in the day or found in your home or lawn may be rabid or sick. Rabies can only be confirmed by laboratory testing.  

You should never directly handle a bat.

All bats are protected by state law, bats found living in walls or attics can only be removed August-March.

What should I do if I encounter a bat?

If you know you have been bitten or scratched by a bat

  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  • If possible, contain the bat and contact the health department immediately to arrange for capture and testing
  • If the bat test negative for rabies, you will not need post-exposure treatment.

If you have a bat in your home

  • If you wake up with a bat in your room, you may have been exposed to rabies and should contact your doctor and the Health Department (502-574-6650) to determine if you need rabies post-exposure treatment.
  • Bat teeth are very fine, and you may not even realize that you have been bitten.
  • The room with the bat should be isolated, and you should contact the Health Department immediately to collect the bat and test it for rabies.
  • If the bat test negative for rabies, you will not need PEP.
  • If there is no clear entry point that the bat got into your home, you will also need to contact a bat remediation specialist to determine if bats are living in your home.

What should I do if I encounter a bat?

If you know you have been bitten or scratched by a bat

  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  • If possible, contain the bat and contact the health department immediately to arrange for capture and testing
  • If the bat test negative for rabies, you will not need post-exposure treatment.

If you have a bat in your home

  • If you wake up with a bat in your room, you may have been exposed to rabies and should contact your doctor and the Health Department (502-574-6650) to determine if you need rabies post-exposure treatment.
  • Bat teeth are very fine, and you may not even realize that you have been bitten.
  • The room with the bat should be isolated, and you should contact the Health Department immediately to collect the bat and test it for rabies.
  • If the bat test negative for rabies, you will not need PEP.
  • If there is no clear entry point that the bat got into your home, you will also need to contact a bat remediation specialist to determine if bats are living in your home.

What if your pet kills or comes into contact with a bat?

  • If your pet comes into contact with a bat, it has potentially been exposed to the rabies virus. Please contact LMPHW by calling 502.574.6640 or email [email protected].  Your pet may need to be quarantined to ensure rabies was not transmitted. Please advise us if you choose to have your pet quarantined in a different location other than your home

  

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