Animal Bites to Humans

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By law, animal bites are considered a reportable disease in the state of Pennsylvania. All animal bites to humans in the County of Delaware should be reported to the Delaware County Department of Health using the following form: https://www.delcopa.gov/health/pdf/env/HumanExposureToRabiesForm.pdf

The Department of Health will provide advice on whether the exposed person should start receiving rabies treatment.

If a person has been bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to saliva by a mammal that is suspected of having rabies, the animal must be tested for rabies. The only way to test for rabies is to euthanize the animal and have it submitted to an approved laboratory for rabies testing.

  • Individuals may hand deliver live bats to the state lab themselves (see PADOH guidance).
  • For domestic animals, the dead animal owner’s veterinarian will generally conduct rabies testing prep of deceased animals and submit the sample for testing.
  • Dead wildlife (heads only, except for bats) can be dropped off at PADOH BOL laboratory directly by individuals (see this guidance). Decapitation must be performed by a professional such as a veterinarian, game commission officer or certified wildlife technician, taking all biohazard safety precautions.

If a person has been bitten by a mammal that is not suspected of having rabies, then the animal must be observed for a period during which the animal is prevented from exposing other people or animals. If the animal is clinically normal (not showing any signs of rabies) by the end of the observation period, then it was very unlikely to have had rabies in its saliva on the day it bit the person and will be released from observation. If the animal shows signs of rabies or dies before the observation period is over, it should be submitted for rabies testing. In some situations, such as when the mammal is a wild animal, euthanasia may be preferential to a period of observation.

Animal concerns not related to animal bites to humans are outside DCHD purview and do not involve any investigation by DCHD staff. Investigations and responsibilities of the following situations below will occur within local municipalities, local police departments, state agencies or the private sector:

  • Animal vs. animal bites (no human involvement)
  • Stray wandering dogs
  • Deceased animals found inside or outside the home
  • Trapping of any animals
  • Euthanizing any animals
  • Transporting animals or animal samples for testing

Please see this helpful website for general information about how to solve or prevent a wild animal problem: https://wildlifehelp.org/



For more information and assistance, the Delaware County Health Department Wellness Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to responding to phone calls, the Wellness Line also responds to email inquiries.

Phone: (484) 276-2100 (Available 24/7)
Email: DelcoWellness@co.delaware.pa.us

 



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About Delaware County

Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.


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