Animal Bites & Rabies

What is Rabies and how do people get it?

Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain and nervous system. It can infect all mammals and is seen mostly in bats, skunks, raccoons and other wild animals.  It is transmitted  to people in the saliva of a bitting animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth or wound.  If rabies is contracted by a human, it is invariably fatal.  Prompt treatment following the bite of a rabid animal is critical in preventing rabies.

How can I tell if an animal has rabies?

You can’t tell if an animal has rabies. When an animal is sick with rabies, it may behave strangely. But, a rabid animal may also appear healthy or even tame. The only way to tell if an animal has rabies is by testing it in a laboratory, or for some pets and livestock, by a quarantine to see if rabies develops.

How can my health department help?

The Ashtabula County Health Department will place the biting dog, cat or ferret under a quarantine, usually at the owner’s home.  If the animal remains healthy during quarantine, the person bitten was not exposed to the rabies virus.  Wild animals and stray animals are usually tested.  Unfortunately, this means the animal must be sacrificed because the test is done on the brain tissue.  The Ashtabula County Health Department can advise you and your veterinarian on how to have this done.  We will also know the risk of animal rabies in your community.  This may be important to your doctor if the animal is not available for testing or quarantine.

Reporting an animal bite

State and local rules and regulations require all animal bites, scratches and exposure incidents to be reported to the Board of Health within 24 hours. The Ashtabula County Health Department is open from 8:00 am to 4:30pm, Monday thru Friday at (440) 576-6010 option 3.

**Also to report an incident, you can print off our Animal Bite Form complete it in its entirety and fax it to the Ashtabula County Health Department at  (440) 576-5527.

To report an incident, please have this information ready:

  • How? and Where?  the bite occurred.  It needs reported to the appropriate health district, depending on the location where the bite occured:

Ashtabula City District-
Contact Ashtabula City Health Dept ., 4717 Main Ave., Ashtabula, OH, 44004
(440) 992-7123. 

 Conneaut City District
Contact Conneaut City Health Dept ., 327 Mill Street, Conneaut, OH, 44030
(440) 593- 3087.

All others contact the Ashtabula County Health Department, 12 West Jefferson St., Jefferson, OH 44047
(440) 576-6010 option 3,
 between the hours of 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

  • Date of the Bite
  • Date of the Report
  • Name of Person Bitten
  • Age of Person Bitten
  • Phone Number of Person Bitten
  • Address of Person Bitten
  • Part of Body affected
  • If Minor, Parents Name, Address & Phone number.
  • Treatment Received
  • Physician’s Name
  • For Dog, Cat, or other bites by pets the following information should be  provided:
  • Owner’s Name
  • Owner’s Phone Number
  • Owners Address
  • Description of the animal
  • Animal’s Name
  • Date Rabies Shot was Given
  • Veterinarian’s Name
  • Veterinarian’s Phone Number
  • Reported by

What can I do to protect my family & pets from Rabies?

  • AVOID contact with wildlife and animals you do not know.  Teach children that although a baby skunk or raccoon may look cute and friendly, it can be very dangerous.
  • VACCINATE your dogs, cats and ferrets for rabies by a veterinarian regulary and keep them current.
  • CALL your doctor if bitten.  Call your veterinarian if your pet fought with a wild animal.

Where can I get more information on rabies?

Ohio Department of Health  or
Rabies Information Line at 1-888-RABIES-1 (1-888-722-4371)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)

American Veterinary Medical Association  (AVMA)

Questions and Answers About Oral Rabies Vaccine 

Bats and Rabies, A Public Health Guide 

Rabies Just 4 Kids 

How to Safely Catch a Bat for Rabies Testing (see top left side of screen for the video)