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Disease Response and Control

Animal Bites

Please fill out and fax to the Whatcom County Humane Society at 360-733-4746.

Mail or fax a copy to the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-676-7646.

Whatcom County public health nurses are available for consultation on management of animal bites, animal rabies testing, and rabies prophylaxis at 360-676-4593 or evening or weekends at 360-715-2588.

Healthcare providers, hospitals, and veterinarians are required to notify local health jurisdictions of animal bites to humans.  The purpose of reporting is to assure appropriate rabies prevention measures are initiated after a bite, including observation of healthy dogs, cats, and ferrets; laboratory testing of wild animals; wound care and appropriate rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).  The Whatcom County Health Department neither orders nor administers rabies vaccine.  This is the responsibility of the healthcare provider.

Animal Rabies in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest

Bats are the only known reservoir for rabies in Washington State and British Columbia.  Rabid bats are found throughout the state.  The percentage of bats in the wild that are infected with rabies is very low (less than 1%); however, 5-10% of the sick and injured bats submitted for testing in Washington are rabid.  Rabies has also occurred recently in animals other than bats.

However, during 2000-2007, rabid non-bat animals were detected in these states and provinces.  Oregon identified six rabid foxes with bat-variant rabies during 2000-2007.  Idaho detected a rabid bobcat in 2001 and a rabid skunk in 2004, both with bat-variant rabies. British Columbia found four skunks in Vancouver in 2004 and a cat in 2007 all infected with bat-variant rabies.  This clearly demonstrates that bat variant rabies may be transmitted to other animals including domestic animals.

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Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to Local Health Jurisdiction immediately
  • Hospitals: notifiable to Local Health Jurisdictions immediately.
  • Laboratories: No requirements for reporting.



Contact Information

Whatcom County Health Department
Disease Response and Control
Telephone: 360-676-4593
Fax: 360-676-7646
CD Report Line: 360-738-2503
Immunizations/Tuberculosis: 360-676-4593


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