Rabies is present in mammals almost worldwide and is a major human health concern in some regions.  We are fortunate to live in the United States where decades of judicious pre-exposure vaccination of pets and livestock has dramatically reduced human exposure.  An estimated 50,000 people die annually from rabies around the world; only 2-3 of these cases occur in the United States.  Most human exposure occurs through contact with infected dogs.


In Minnesota, pets should be vaccinated between 3-4 months of age, again after a year, and every three years after the second vaccination.  States and municipalities may have different rules so check with local veterinarians or law enforcement to find your specific area’s regulations regarding rabies vaccination and pet licensing procedures.


Follow the links below for more information on rabies, bite prevention and what to do if you suspect an exposure:

Minnesota Department of Health Rabies Information Page [Link]

Minnesota Board of Animal Health – Rabies and Pets  [Link]


From the Board of Animal Health website:

Animal Bites to Humans

Humans exposed to potentially rabid, test-positive, or clinically diagnosed rabid animals should contact their physician and MDH for advice as soon as possible after exposure.

A pet dog, cat, or ferret that bites a human must be euthanized and tested for rabies, or confined and observed for TEN days. A dog, cat, or ferret that is currently vaccinated for rabies may be confined in the home or as directed by local authorities. A dog, cat, or ferret that is not currently vaccinated for rabies may be required by local authorities to be confined at a veterinary clinic or other secure location at the owner’s expense. If the animal dies or shows signs suggestive of rabies during the ten days, it must be submitted for rabies testing.

Stray dogs, cats, or ferrets that bite a human may be confined and observed for ten days or euthanized and submitted for testing after a five-day holding period. Euthanisia and rabies testing may be performed prior to the end of the five-day holding period if requested by MDH.

An animal other than a dog, cat, or ferret that bites a human must be managed on a case-by-case basis based on the recommendations of MDH. The animals may be required to be confined and observed for signs suggestive of rabies. If MDH requests a rabies test, the animal must be euthanized and tested for rabies.

Please contact local animal control for assistance in capturing a wild animal. Local animal control, and law enforcement officials are responsible for enforcement of laws related to animal bites.