Human Exposure

Bites & Scratches

The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal and can be spread though a bite or scratch. You cannot get rabies from blood, skunk spray, urine, feces, or from petting an infected animal.

Under state regulations, all human and pet bites must be reported to Animal Control. If you or your pet has been bitten by a domesticated pet or a wild animal, please contact Animal Control.
  • During regular business hours (Mon-Fri, 8-11): call 301-600-1544
  • After hours, weekends, and holidays: call 301-600-1603

Bites From Domesticated Animals

  • Wash bite with soap and water
  • Contact Animal Control to report the bite.
  • If the biting animal’s owner is onsite, it is important to exchange contact information so that the animal’s vaccination records can be verified. If it does not have a current vaccination, it will be required to get one.
  • If no owner is onsite, restrain animal if possible and safe to do so for collection by Animal Control, who will attempt to track down the owner to verify vaccination status.
  • If no owner is onsite and animal is unable to be restrained, note its size, color, breed, collar color, and any other markings that may help Animal Control track it down.
  • NOTE: All domesticated animals will be put under a 10-day observation quarantine which takes place at the owner’s residence. Animal Control will not take the pet away.

Bites from Wild Animals

  • Wash bite with soap and water.
  • Restrain or trap the animal if able and safe to do so; this allows it to be sent for testing. Avoid injuring the head area if possible to ensure proper lab results.
  • Contact Animal Control to report the bite and pick up the animal.
  • Contact your physician, the Frederick Health Hospital’s Emergency Department (240-566-3500), or the Health Department’s Community Health Services Division (301-600-3342).

Special Note About Bats

Due to the small size of the puncture wound, most people are unaware when they have been bitten by a bat; therefore it is important to know what to do if you discover a bat if your home even if there is no evidence of a bite. Learn about bats in your home.

Rabies Test Results

Any potentially rabid animal that has been in contact with a human or pet will be collected by Animal Control and submitted to the Rabies State Testing Lab. Domesticated animals will be put under a 10-day observation quarantine and will not be submitted for testing (unless there are extenuating circumstances).
Once the Health Department receives the positive or negative test results from the State Lab, the bite victim will be contacted with these results:
  • If the animal tests negative for the rabies virus, no further action is needed.
  • If the animal tests positive for the rabies virus, Health Department staff will complete a phone investigation to determine what actions should be taken. In cases of human exposure, the victim will be directed to the appropriate medical contact person for further direction.
View an outline of Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP) shots.

Additional Information

Domesticated Animal Bites Pamphlet
Rabies Overview Pamphlet 
FCHD Nursing