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Diseases and conditions
Animal Bites and Rabies

Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is almost always fatal. All warm-blooded mammals including humans are susceptible to rabies. For more information visit: Department of Health rabies website.

What should I do if an animal bites me?
Clean the site of any animal bite with soap and water. Contact your health care provider and Clark County Public Health to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies.

How to protect your pets from rabies:
Always vaccinate your pets, including dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, and rodents. If your pet finds a dead bat, collect the bat in a plastic bag as you would pick up dog droppings - no bare hand contact. Call Clark County Public Health for current recommendations, and call your veterinarian to be sure your pet's rabies vaccination is current. Animals exposed to possibly rabid bats must be confined for 45 days if vaccinated, and up to 6 months if not vaccinated.  

Avoiding bat bites:
Never touch bats with bare hands. Be suspicious of bat activity during daylight hours - it could indicate illness in the bat. If you find a bat in your room when you wake up, call Clark County Public Health at (360) 397-8182 to discuss the likelihood of your exposure to a bat bite or scratch. What may seem insignificant to you might turn out to be serious enough for testing and treatment. Bats will be accepted for testing only if a human exposure is involved. If you know for certain you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, seek medical attention immediately. Wear gloves, and capture or transfer the bat into a container, and call Clark County Public Health for instructions. The state public health laboratory tests bats at no charge if the bat has possibly exposed a human to rabies.

Do I need to report an animal bite?
In Clark County, ALL animal bites are reportable to Animal Control. Please contact the appropriate department/agency for your area to report an animal bite:

  • Clark County (also covers Yacolt): (360) 397-2488
  • Battle Ground PD: (360) 342-5100
  • La Center PD: (360) 263-2745
  • Ridgefield PD: (360) 887-3556
  • Woodland PD: (360) 577-0191
  • Camas/Washougal PD: (360) 824-4151

For Public Health and Healthcare Providers:

WA DOH rabies assessment guidelines:
The recommendations available through DOH provide guidance on how to evaluate the risk of a rabies exposure and in determining the need to give rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Assessment of Rabies Exposures from Animal Contact and Guidance on Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PDF)

Available testing services for rabies:
Testing of animals suspected of rabies infection is available through the state lab. Prior approval for testing needs to be granted by Clark County Public Health through the Communicable Disease Unit. To determine if an animal suspected of rabies qualifies for testing, please call (360) 397-8182.

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Spanish contact information

(360) 397-8000 ext. 7205

Russian contact information

(360) 397-8000 ext. 7214