Rabies and Animal Bites

Rabies is a rare infection of the brain and nervous system. It is nearly always fatal. Rabies is passed through saliva when an animal with rabies bites a person or animal. Rabies only affects mammals.

If you are bitten by an animal that might have rabies, it is extremely important to get medical treatment from your medical provider or the local emergency department right away. Post-exposure treatment is very effective at preventing rabies, but it's important to get it quickly.

Rabies is preventable. Prevent rabies by not handling wild animals and by vaccinating your pets to protect both the pets and the people in your family.

Animal Bite Report Form for Medical Providers

How common is rabies in Oregon?

In Oregon, bats are the main animal of concern for rabies. In the last five years, Clackamas County has averaged one bat per year that has tested positive for rabies. 

In the last 23 years in Oregon, about 8 percent of bats that have been tested were found to have rabies.  Although less often tested, about 16 percent of foxes that have been tested were found to have rabies. During that time rabies has also been found in three coyotes, two cats, one skunk and one goat. It is not considered a risk in racoons or squirrels in Oregon.  

If you are bitten by an animal

  • Immediately and thoroughly wash any bite or scratch wound with soap and water. Simple local wound cleaning has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of rabies and other infections.
  • Seek immediate follow-up care from your provider or the local emergency department.  
  • If you’ve been bitten by an animal and have questions, call us at 503-655-8411.
  • Bat bites can be very small. If you’ve been in contact with a bat – even if you aren’t sure you’ve been bitten or scratched – talk to a healthcare provider or call us at 503-655-8411 to discuss your risk and whether you need treatment.    

Oregon laws relating to rabies vaccination

All dogs in Oregon must be vaccinated by a veterinarian for rabies. Oregon law (ORS 433.365; OAR 333-019-0017) requires all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies as early as three months of age. There are not state laws about other pets, but this is recommended. Discuss options with your veterinarian. Pets that may have been in contact with rabid animals may be required by law to be vaccinated and either quarantined or euthanized according to instruction from Public Health.

Vaccinating livestock/animals

The National Associate of State Public Health Veterinarians recommends rabies vaccinations for all horses and livestock that have frequent contact with humans (e.g., in petting zoos, fairs, and other public exhibitions). Consult with your veterinarian about vaccination protocols for domestic animals.

Batproofing your house

People should examine their home for holes that might allow bats inside the home. Most bats leave in the fall or winter to hibernate, so these are the best times to bat-proof your home.

  • Fill any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics, fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking and ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.
  • Clear plastic sheeting or bird netting may be used to cover areas where you've seen bats roost.
  • You should avoid handling bats at any cost.

Dog bites

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, contact Clackamas County Dog Services

Phone:503-742-5300
Fax:503-742-5352

2051 Kaen Road Suite 367 Oregon City, OR 97045

Office Hours:

Monday to Thursday
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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