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Rabies Control and Coordination   « Back

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected mammals and is transmitted to pets and humans by bites, or possibly by contamination of an open cut with saliva. Because there is no cure, treatment is critical for a person who has been infected by rabies. In Wisconsin, skunks and bats are the most likely animals to carry the rabies virus, although rabies also has occurred with some regularity in dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons and livestock.

Lincoln County Health Department works collaborately with local veterinarians, law enforcement, health care providers, the State Lab of Hygiene, the victim of an animal bite and animal owner, to ensure completion of post-exposure follow-up of all reported animal bites in Lincoln County. Follow-up includes observation and testing of the biting animal and possible treatment of the victim. In most cases, observation or testing of the biting animal will rule out the possibility of rabies.

What to do if you have been bitten by an animal.
1. Wash the wound immediately with soap and running water for at least five minutes.
2. See physician immediately, even for minor wounds.
3. Immediately confine the pet and contact your veterinarian or local law enforcement.
4. If the bite is from a wild or stray animal, DO NOT try to capture the animal unless you are sure you can do so without incurring injury.
5. DO NOT destroy the animal which has bitten a human or other animal. Contact local law enforcement or the Lincoln County Health Department.
6. If an animal suspected of having rabies cannot be observed or tested, or if it tests positive for rabies, treatment of the individual with rabies immune globulin and the vaccine series must begin immediately. Vaccine injections are given in the arm.

Wisconsin Statute 95.21
Wisconsin Statute 95.21 "Rabies Control Program" requires that a dog or cat which has bitten a person must be delivered to a veterinarian within 24 hours after being contacted by the law enforcement agency or health department for examination and quarantine of not less that 10 days at the expense of the owner. If the animal is currently immunized against rabies as evidenced by a valid vaccination certificate, the animal may be quarantined on the premises of the owner, following initial examination by a veterinarian. An animal that is quarantined at home will be returned to a veterinarian for additional examination on the 10th day following the bite and on 1 intervening day.

If no valid evidence of vaccination can be displayed, the dog or cat will be impounded by the veterinarian or at an isolation facility for at least 10 days at the owner's expense.

On or after the 10th day, a final examination will be conducted by a veterinarian who will complete the veterinarian's certificate. The signed certificate must be returned to the initiating agency (law enforcement or the health department). Failure to comply with this quarantine order will result in a fine of not less that $100 nor more that $1,000, or imprisoned not more that 60 days or both.

Useful Links:

The Wisconsin Statutes on Rabies Control

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC's Rabies Web Page for Kids

Shelley Hersil, Director
Lincoln County Health Department
607 North Sales St. Suite 101
Merrill, WI 54452
Phone: 715-539-1360
Fax: 715-536-2011
Click here to email
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