Animal Bites/Disease Prevention

Animal Bites

Animal bites may need immediate medical attention depending on severity. It is important to clean the wound immediately regardless if medical attention is sought. Your physician may elect to preemptively treat for rabies exposure, but 72 hours is often allowed to receive results of rabies testing prior to treatment. Rabies post-exposure treatment can be discussed when the bite is reported. Reports of animal bites to your local rabies authority should be done within 24 hours. The animal should be confined for a veterinary exam or testing if possible.

Find your local Animal Control Agency here.

An animal has bitten or scratched me and caused me to bleed?
  • Take note of the appearance/description of the animal and owner contact information
  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Report the bite to the local animal control
  • Your local animal control will take a report on the bite
  • Get a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the last 10 years
  • Go to a health care provider if the bite is severe
  • Rabies Brochure English | Español
  • Rabies Post Exposure Prophylaxis Guide for People
My pet has been bitten or scratched by a high risk rabies carrier?
I have found a bat.

Harris County Public Health Zoonosis

A zoonotic disease is any infectious disease that is transmitted from animals to humans.

The Zoonosis program is part of Harris County Public Health. For questions or information, please contact Harris County Public Health at 713-439-6000.

What You Need To Know About Rabies

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. Rabies is spread by a bite or a scratch from an infected mammal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Opossums are rarely carriers of the deadly virus because of their naturally low body temperature.

Rabies Facts

  • Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system.
  • Rabies can infect any warm-blooded animal.  
  • There is no cure for rabies, and it is almost always fatal. 
  • The only way to test for rabies is by examination of the brain tissue of a dead animal.
  • Click here to learn more about rabies

Useful resources

Reportable Diseases

Several diseases must be reported. Visit these links to see reportable diseases.  

Texas laws require notifiable conditions to be reported to the local health authority or Texas Department of State Health Services.

Non-Reportable Diseases

Many of the notifiable conditions are those pertaining to human conditions; however, Harris County Public Health also tracks non-reportable animal diseases, especially in the event of an outbreak. If you are a veterinarian and are seeing an influx of a particular uncommon, highly contagious, or zoonotic disease, OR if a client has recently adopted a pet that has been diagnosed with a highly contagious or zoonotic disease, we ask that you report it to our zoonosis department. Examples of non-reportable diseases:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Brucellosis (Brucella canis)
  • Canine distemper
  • Canine influenza
  • Rickettsial disease: Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi), RMSF (Rickettsia rickettsii)
  • Pseudorabies in companion animals

Veterinary Health Alert Network (VHAN)

The Veterinary Health  Alert Network (VHAN) is a notification system designed to keep veterinarians updated with urgent local and national health updates.

Subscribe online to receive future VHAN bulletins and Your Zoonosis Connection newsletters.

VHAN Bulletins
Your Zoonosis Connection Newsletters