Rabies Quarantine Times

Here's part of an email that was primarily about an aural hematoma. However, the hematoma started with a wound.

Raccoon My Scottish Terrier
received a small bite on the ear by a raccoon, I immediately gave him a
bath and got him to the vets. His vaccination had expired so I now have
him at an in home voluntary quarantine.

Thank you,
Tammy

Hello, Tammy,

Let's talk about your "in-home voluntary quarantine".

Rabies is shed in the saliva of infected animals for up to 5 days before they show any outward signs of illness.  Since it is a brain infection, the first signs of illness are altered behavior.  For example, this could be a friendly animal who becomes aggressive, or a reclusive, nocturnal animal (like a skunk or raccoon) that comes out in broad daylight. Eventually more serious signs develop, terminating in convulsions and death.

Since the virus is shed for 5 days before the animal acts sick, we routinely quarantine an animal that has bitten someone for 10 days after the bite.  Even if the animal is carrying rabies, if it acts okay at day 10 (10 days is doubly sure), it wasn't shedding virus when it bit the victim.  Thus, we know the victim is at no risk of getting sick with rabies. 

The victim of the bite of a rabid animal can take months to develop the disease.  The virus doesn't travel in the bloodstream.  It only travels in nerve tissue.  When it finally reaches the brain, you get sick.  If you get bitten on the  big toe, it takes a long time.  If you get bitten in the face, not very long.

Still, even with a bite on the face, if you are going to quarantine the victim of a bite (such as your dog), you would have to keep it quarantined for six months in order to be sure that the dog had not been  exposed to rabies.  Countries like England (and states like Hawaii) that do not have rabies in their animal population require a six-month quarantine for dogs and cats before they can be allowed to enter.

In your case, this would (in my opinion) be foolish.  You have several options.  One would be to ignore the situation unless your dog showed signs of central nervous system (brain) disease.  Of course, then you'd have to quarantine him during the treatment period for the disease.  If he died, the brain tissue would then be examined for rabies virus.

Another option would be to have blood drawn and have a titer checked (it is possible to tell if the dog's previous vaccinations are still producing immunity).  In either case, a booster dose with a killed virus vaccine should be given.  This will not hurt, and is a recommended safety precaution.

As with any puncture wound, your pet should be examined and treated by your veterinarian.  Even when rabies is not present, serious infections can develop.

2 thoughts on “Rabies Quarantine Times

  1. pet relocation says:

    This is a great informative blog. As the owner of a ground shipping company for pets I feel that their isn’t enough information out for pet owners. Thanks for your time you’ve put into this blog and for getting out the much needed information about the vaccination Quarantine.

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