Health Department

Procedure for Reporting Human Exposure: Guidelines for physicians, nurses, and veterinarians.

What To Report

  • Significant Human Exposure – Any bite, scratch, or other situation in which saliva or central nervous system (CNS) tissue of a potentially rabid animal may have entered an open wound, fresh wound, or comes in contact with the mucus membrane by contacting the eye, nose, or mouth.
  • Report immediately, by phone, exposures to stray or wild animals.
  • No need to report exposures to squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, chipmunks, rats, mice, other rodents (except groundhogs), rabbits, and hares, unless they exhibit unusual behavior that makes them suspect.

Animal Exposure Report Form


  • When an exposure occurs from a high-risk animal, it is important to start treatment within 48 hours (12 hours if head or neck exposure).
  • Advisory Committee Immunization Practices (ACIP) Treatment guidelines are detailed in the Centers for Disease Control, MMWR Report, May 23, 2008, Human Rabies Prevention – United States, 2008,  
  • Advisory Committee Immunization Practices (ACIP)  Use of a Reduced (4-Dose) Vaccine Schedule for Postexposure Prophylaxis to Prevent Human Rabies, MMWR, March 19, 2010,

High Risk Wild Animals

  • Raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, bats, groundhogs, bobcats, coyotes, and other carnivores must be considered rabid unless proven negative by laboratory testing.
  • These animals should be captured, if possible, and killed in a manner that does not damage the brain.
  • Assistance with processing specimens for the State Lab must be coordinated through the Erie County Department of Health. The Health Department is on call at all times for report and consultation.

Victim's Responsibilities

  • The victim is responsible for assisting the Health Department in obtaining information on the owner of the domestic dog or cat.
  • Stray dogs or cats – it is the victim’s responsibility to locate the animal and arrange for shelter during the 10-day quarantine period.
  • If the animal escapes or is unable to be located, rabies vaccine should be started immediately.

Pet Owner's Responsibilities

  • The owner is responsible for providing a 10-day quarantine from the day of exposure.
  • “Quarantine” means that the animal must be observed for changes in health and/or behavior, kept from running free, and its exposure to people is restricted.

The Owner is required by law to cooperate with Health Department recommendations and may be subject to penalties for failure to cooperate.

Want to Learn More?

Erie County Courthouse - 140 West Sixth Street, Erie, PA 16501 - (814) 451-6000 - TDD Phone: (814) 451-6237 - Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm
Contact Us - Department Listing