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Animal bites and scratches from wild animals, such as bats and raccoons, can spread the rabies virus.

Rabies is a deadly but preventable virus. It spreads primarily through the bite or scratch from an infected animal when the bite or scratch breaks the skin. Animal bites, scratches, or other types of animal exposures such as contact with an animal’s saliva or brain material could potentially spread the rabies virus to humans.

Pets can get rabies too and spread it to people. This is why it is important to get pets (cats, ferrets, and dogs) vaccinated for rabies.

If You Or Your Pet Have Been Bitten Or Scratched By A Wild Animal

If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, immediately clean the wound with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider.

Follow These Steps To Report The Bite Or Exposure

 Step 1: Be Able To Answer The Following Questions:

  • Did a person or pet have direct contact with the wild animal?
  • Where was the wild animal found?
  • How long was the wild animal in your home?


Step 2: Report The Bite Or Exposure To Animal Services:

  • Call 815-319-4100 to report the bite or exposure to Winnebago County Animal Services
  • They Will:
    • Investigate the situation
    • Document bite the bite or exposure
    • Collect the wild animal if available
      • Animals collected may be sent for rabies testing. If tested, results will be provided to you.


Step 3: Ask The Winnebago County Health Department About Your Rabies Risk:

  • Call 815-720-4050 to connect with the Winnebago County Health Department
  • They will:
    • Ask questions to assess rabies risk
    • Provide guidance and any next steps needed


Rabies Reporting Process
pasos para informar la rabia

For Bats In Your Home or Bites And Scratches From Pets

Bats Found In A Home


If a bat is in your home, call animal services at 815-319-4100 to help capture and remove the bat. This will help determine if there is a rabies risk to your family.

Pets That Bite Or Scratch A Person

Photo collage of pets

Pets (such as dogs and cats) that bite or scratch a person should be monitored for 10 days. Be sure to get contact information for the owner and the vaccination status of the pet. Then call animal services at 815-319-4100 to report the bite.

Prevent Rabies Exposures


The following are actions you can take to help prevent you, your pets and your family from being exposed to rabies:

  • Vaccinate your pets
  • Stay away from wild animals, especially those not acting normally
  • Teach your children not to approach any wild animals or unfamiliar pets.
  • If you find an injured animal, don’t touch it; contact local authorities for assistance.
  • Prohibit bats from occupying living quarters by keeping screens in good repair and closing any small openings that could allow them to enter.
dog getting vaccinated

For HealthCare Providers

CALL 815-720-4050

The Winnebago County Health Department is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for healthcare providers with questions regarding:

  • Rabies,
  • Potential rabies exposure due to animal bites, or
  • Adminstration of the rabies post exposure prophylaxis
Photo of health professionals