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Indiana State Department of Health

Rabies Education Home > HealthCare Providers & Local Health Departments > Evaluation Guidance for Animal Bite Treatment Evaluation Guidance for Animal Bite Treatment

Rabies Post-exposure Prophylaxis Guide-United States 1999 (Human Rabies Prevention-United States, 1999) MMWR, 01/08/1999, Vol. 48 / No. RR-1

Animal type Evaluation and disposition of animal Post-exposure prophylaxis recommendations
Dog, cat, or ferret

Health and available for 10 day observation period

Persons should not begin prophylaxis unless animal develops clinical rabies1

Rabid or suspected rabid Immediately vaccinate2
Unknown (e.g. escaped) Consult with public health officials
Skunks, raccoons, foxes, and most carnivores; bats Regard as rabid unless animal proven negative by laboratory tests Consider immediate vaccination3
Livestock, small rodents, lagomorphs (rabbits and hares), large rodents (woodchucks and beavers), and other mammals Consider individually Consult public health officials.  Bites of squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice , or other small rodents, rabbits, and hares almost never require antirabies post-exposure prophylaxis

1. During the 10-day observation period, begin post-exposure prophylaxis at the first sign of rabies in a dog, cat, or ferret that has bitten someone. If the animal exhibits clinical signs of rabies, it should be euthanized immediately and tested. In Indiana the occurrence of rabies in dogs, cats, and ferrets has not been reported since 1989 and in most cases post-exposure prophylaxis can be delayed until rabies testing is completed by the Indiana State Department of Health Rabies Laboratory.

2. Post-exposure prophylaxis should be started immediately for an individual bitten by a laboratory proved rabid animal. Consult with public health officials when an animal is suspected rabid. In Indiana the incidence or rabies in dogs, cats, and ferrets has not been reported since 1989 and in most cases post-exposure prophylaxis can be delayed until rabies testing is completed by the Indiana State Department of Health Rabies Laboratory.

3. The animal should be euthanized and tested as soon as possible. Holding for observation is not recommended. Discontinue vaccine if laboratory test results of the animal is negative. The Indiana State Department of Health Rabies Laboratory is able to perform and report test results within 24 hours of an animal’s submission. Unless the circumstances of the exposure is unusual such as bites about the head or neck by an unprovoked, aggressive animal, starting post-exposure prophylaxis can usually be delayed until test results are available.