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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

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Animal Bites and Scratches

Environmental Health

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded mammals, including people. It can be prevented but not cured through pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis.

A rabies exposure is any bite, scratch, or other situation in which saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, tears, or nervous tissue from a suspect or known rabid animal enters an open wound or comes in contact with mucous membranes of another animal or person.

A suspected rabid animal is any mammal capable of transmitting rabies. An animal cannot be ruled out as suspect until a full rabies investigation is completed by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), or a negative laboratory result is obtained. Therefore, all exposures need to be reported to FDOH.

FDOH will follow up on all reported human exposures to determine whether animal will be observed for 10 days, tested, or post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended if not started already at ER visit.

Domestic animals (dogs, cats, and ferrets) which bite or otherwise potentially expose a person to rabies can be confined for observation for 10 days. Livestock, including horses, can be confined for a 14-day observation period. Humans exposed to an animal that can be monitored rarely require post-exposure prophylaxis.

Report an Animal Bite

Animal Risk Assessment

Health Care Provider Information

Veterinarian Office Information

Additional Resources

Hillsborough County Animal Services
Phone: (813)744-5660
Fax: (813) 635-7428

Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center
440 N Falkenburg Rd, Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 301-7387

Center for Disease Control - Rabies

Rabies Fact Sheet (English)

Rabies Fact Sheet (Spanish)

Rabies Fact Sheet (Creole)