Rabies Quarantine Procedures


Rabies is a fatal transmissible disease that can be passed to people through the bite of an infected animal. As a result, specific rabies quarantine procedures have been mandated and must be followed in the event of a rabies exposure. These procedures exist to protect the public from the threat of rabies. The Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control provides the foundation for these rabies quarantine protocols.

Human Exposures

Any dog, cat or ferret that bites a person must be quarantined and observed daily for 10 days. Vaccination against rabies is discouraged during the quarantine period to avoid confusing vaccination reactions with symptoms of rabies. Unvaccinated pets should not receive a rabies vaccine until the quarantine period has ended.

Any animal exhibiting symptoms suggestive of rabies during the quarantine procedure must be tested for rabies. Therefore, euthanasia of the animal is required. Stray or unwanted dogs, cats or ferrets can be euthanized and tested immediately rather than being quarantined.

Bites from other species of animals must be examined on a case by case basis. The final decision regarding quarantine of the animal will be made by local public health or animal control officers. Factors to be considered include the species of animal involved, the circumstances surrounding the bite, the animal's current health status and history and the potential for rabies exposure.

Animal Exposures

Euthanasia is recommended for unvaccinated animals exposed to rabies. However, if the owner is unwilling, the animal can be quarantined in a secure facility, where there will be no direct contact with people or other animals for a period of six months. If the animal develops symptoms suggestive of rabies within the quarantine period, public health or animal control officials will order euthanasia and testing for rabies.

Currently, vaccinated animals that are exposed to rabies should be kept under their owner's control for a period of 45 days and observed closely. Vaccination against rabies should be repeated immediately. Any illness should be reported immediately to public health or animal control officers. If symptoms are suggestive of rabies, euthanasia and testing for rabies is necessary.

State or Local Laws

Though the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control provides guidelines that encourage standardization of rabies control and prevention procedures, state and local laws may differ. Where this is the case, those state or local laws take precedence over those protocols suggested in the Compendium.

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  • Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2008; Ben Sun, DVM, MPVM et al; May 15, 2008
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