The goal of the rabies control program is to prevent humans from contracting rabies. We accomplish this through routine reporting of animal bites by hospitals, clinics, and law enforcement agencies; investigation of bite incidents; consistent use of quarantine, and laboratory testing of animals when appropriate.
Rabies prophylaxis is recommended when tests indicate the biting animal is positive for rabies, or when the bite is from a stray and we are unsuccessful in locating it. Because rabies is nearly always fatal, if we cannot locate and ascertain the rabies status of the stray animal, we recommend prophylaxis for the bite victim.
Human Exposure to Rabies
Wisconsin State Law requires that all Dogs be vaccinated for Rabies by the age of 5 months. Rabies Vaccinations are good for 1 year to 3 years depending on the type of vaccine used and the age of the animal when the vaccination was given. Owners should check with their vet and make sure their pets are up to date on rabies vaccinations at all times. Though no vaccination provides 100% protection, it does provide one of the most effective ways to protect your animal from the rabies virus.
Several municipalities require rabies vaccinations for cats. Contact your municipal clerk for more information.
According to State Statute, domestic animals not showing signs of rabies are quarantined for a 10-day period. Quarantine means confined or on a leash at all times during a quarantine. Vaccinated animals are allowed a home quarantine while unvaccinated generally go the Marathon County Humane Society for quarantine and rabies vaccination before being returned to the owner. In either quarantine, the animal must be checked three times by a licensed veterinarian for rabies symptoms. Checks are done as soon as possible during the quarantine, midway through the quarantine, and the last day of the quarantine. Animal owners are responsible for quarantine and veterinarian expenses under the statute.
Strays or Purchasing a Pet
Never assume that even a friendly stray animal is safe or has been vaccinated. Some municipalities have agreements with the Humane Society for dealing with strays while others use other means. Stray animals should be reported to Marathon County Dispatch at 715-261-1200.
If you purchase a pet, get vaccination records and confirm the records with the veterinarian office that provided vaccination. Without documentation, your new pet must be considered unvaccinated if there is a bite.
For more information contact the Marathon County Health Department Lab by calling 715-261-1900.