The Rabies Control Program quarantines dogs, cats, and ferrets involved in biting incidents to ensure that the animal did not transmit rabies to the bite victim.
Biting animals are not released from quarantine until proof of rabies vaccination by a veterinarian registered with Public Health is provided. Laboratory tests of wild animals also are conducted when necessary.
Is rabies really a problem in Montgomery County?
Yes and no. Rabies is a fatal disease for which there is no cure and rabid wild animals are discovered in Montgomery County nearly every year (3 bats in 2013, 0 in 2014, 2 bats in 2015, 0 in 2016). But rabies is preventable through vaccination of pets, quarantining and/or testing of bite animals and post-exposure shots for bite victims when necessary. These control measures have been very successful: there have been no human or domestic animal rabies cases in Montgomery County for many years.
If a family member gets bitten by our pet, should I report it?
Yes. To protect the public health, state law requires that all potential rabies exposures need to be monitored by the local health authority.
What if the “bite” was only a scratch?
It should still be reported. The rabies virus can be spread if the animal’s saliva enters any wound with broken skin, so animal scratches are treated as potential rabies exposures.
Should I report if a bat gets in my house?
Yes. If the bat had access to a room where someone was sleeping, the bat should be tested for rabies.
Why is a bite animal quarantined?
Quarantining an animal ensures that it is available to be observed for signs of rabies 10 days after the bite. It also helps limit additional exposure events until the health status is known.
Why is the quarantine period 10 days?
The rabies virus does not enter the salivary glands of an infected dog or cat until the very last stages of the disease. If the animal is healthy 10 days beyond the date of the bite, it could not have passed on rabies through its saliva to the bite victim.
How is an animal quarantined?
The animal is confined to limit contact with other animals or humans. This can be done at the home in the case of a family pet, at a veterinary clinic or an animal shelter. The animal may not be relocated without permission of the Health Commissioner.
Can my quarantined pet go outside?
Yes, but it must be confined within a fenced area or under your direct supervision to prevent contact with other animals or humans.
What if the animal dies before the end of the 10-day quarantine period?
Then a tissue sample from the animal is submitted to the state lab where it is examined for signs of the disease.
What if the animal tests positive for the rabies virus?
Then the victim will be notified so that he or she can get the post-exposure rabies shots.
What do I need to get my pet released from quarantine?
You must allow the animal to be observed by Public Health staff, and provide proof of current rabies vaccination.
Do I need to show my pet license to get my pet released?
No. A pet license is not required for release from quarantine.
What if my pet’s rabies vaccination is overdue?
You will need to get your pet revaccinated by a veterinary clinic registered with Public Health (but only after the quarantine period is passed and the pet has been observed by Public Health staff.)
Do I need to get a Montgomery County rabies tag from my vet?
Yes. These tags help confirm that your vet is registered locally.
Does my cat have to be vaccinated?
Yes. Local regulations require that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated for rabies.
Why are Montgomery County residents prohibited from owning wild/exotic animals?
There has not been sufficient study of non-domesticated animal species to know how fast the rabies virus might spread in these animals. Also, no rabies vaccines are licensed for these animals. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control have recommended that non-domesticated animals should not be kept as pets, a recommendation incorporated into Montgomery County rabies regulations in 1988.
Which types of animals are prohibited?
Any warm-blooded, non-domestic animals, pure-bred or hybrid, which are capable of transmitting rabies are prohibited. This includes raccoons, wolves, wolf-dog hybrids, foxes, skunks, bobcats, mountain lions, etc. However, reptiles, birds, and so-called “pocket pets (hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, etc.) are not prohibited.