Rabies (aka Hydrophobia) is a fatal, viral disease that
affects the central nervous system in mammals.
Rabies may be transmitted to humans by pets,
livestock, and wildlife by infectious blood and
saliva, usually through a bite. Without prompt
medical attention rabies is fatal. Human
cases and domestic animal rabies can be prevented by
vaccination - it is very important to keep your pets
current on their vaccinations.
Skunks are a
very common source of rabies. However, In the past
decade (1998-2007) 2,112 bats were tested for rabies
but only 3% were rabid.
If there has been
"If a bat is present in your home and
you cannot rule out the possibility of exposure
(bite, deep scratch), leave the bat alone and
contact an animal-control or public health agency
for assistance. If professional help is unavailable.
NOT LOOSE THE BAT! Contain the animal securely
until you can contact your health department or
animal-control authority to make arrangements
for having it tested for Rabies. Use the following precautions to
capture the bat safely:
1. Collect the following materials:
thick leather gloves, small box/coffee can,
cardboardsheet, strong tape.
2. Put on the gloves
3. Approach the bat slowly - place the box/can over
the top of the bat.
4. Slide the sheet of cardboard under the container
to trap the bat inside
5. Tape the cardboard to the container securely, and
punch small holes in the cardboard so that the bat
can breathe (= fresh sample for testing).
1. Clean wound with soap, water and a
virucidal agent such as povidone-iodine solution.
2. Seek prompt, professional medical
3. Immunize for tetanus as indicated
4. Control the bacterial infection as indicated.
5. Immunize for rabies if indicated.
you have NOT been bitten, there is NO
reason to get these shots. Rabies shots have had a
notorius reputation in the past including several
nasty shots in the stomach. This is no longer the
case. The current vaccine is an
inactivated-virus vaccine and comes in injectable
form. Post-exposure shots are a series of 4 small
shots (CDC 2009) in the shoulder muscle. For
pre-exposure protection (scientists and
bat-biologists) a prophylactic series of shots
consists of 3 injections.
No bat-human contact? If you see a bat in your home and
you are sure no human or pet exposure has occurred,
confine the bat to a room by closing all doors
leading into the rest of the house, but open any
windows to the outside so that the bat has a way to
escape. After the bat has calmed down and regained
it's energy, it will be quite happy to fly out of
your house as quickly as possible. If the animal is
very tired or pregnant, you may have to catch the
animal as described above, and then release it
outdoors away from people, small children, and pets.
To submit any specimen for testing
800-592-1861/605-773-3368 -OR- 605-280-4810 after hours,
2. Do not damage the head of the animal
by gunshot or crushing.
3. DO NOT FREEZE the body! Instead, wrap the
head/body carefully in an insulated container cooled
The following is submitted by Dr. David H.
Zeman, DVM, PhD, DACVP...
RABIES TESTING AT THE SDSU ADRDL
Animals suspected of having rabies that have exposed a
human should be euthanized and tested as soon as
possible, and staff at the ADRDL is qualified to perform
the needed rabies FA test. Since the FA test is so quick
and reliable, after hours testing is rarely required
anymore; however, ANY AFTER HOURS, WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY
EMERGENCY RABIES TEST should be directed to the South
Dakota Public Health Laboratory, 615 East 4th St,
Pierre, SD 57501. (See below)
HOW TO SUBMIT RABIES-SUSPECT CASES TO ADRDL
- To meet CDC guidelines for rabies testing, the ENTIRE
BRAIN WITH BRAINSTEM must be submitted FRESH to the
laboratory. This will allow for testing of both sides of
the brain and brainstem as per CDC guidelines. ADRDL
staff will fix the brain from domestic animals and some
wild animals in formalin for histopathology examination
after rabies testing has been completed.
1. Package the brain in a sterile plastic bag placed
inside a crush-proof container. Submit to the lab in an
appropriate leak-proof, insulated shipping container
with adequate ice packs to keep specimen chilled during
shipping. DO NOT FREEZE the fresh brain.
2. As always, the laboratory WILL NOT ACCEPT LIVE
ANIMALS for rabies testing. Whole bodies, complete
heads, or removed brains are all acceptable specimens
for submission. ADRDL staff will remove brains upon
arrival, at no additional charge.
3. Fill out the standard ADRDL submission form with
complete information, including the rabies section at
the bottom. Clearly identify as a rabies suspect and
clearly indicate if human exposure has occurred with the
route of exposure and date included. A referring
veterinarian must be listed on the form. The submission
form can be downloaded from http://vetsci.sdstate.edu
4. Samples arriving to the laboratory before 12 PM
(noon) will have results available the same day. Samples
arriving after 12 PM (noon) will be tested the next
5. Additional tests, if requested, will not be performed
on a rabies suspect case until the rabies FA has been
completed and is negative. (See NEUROLOGIC DISEASES for
6. The ADRDL is open 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday,
excluding holidays. A SPECIMEN DROP-OFF COOLER is
accessible to the public 24 hours a day, so samples can
be delivered to the lab on nights or weekends and left
in this cooler for testing the next business day. The
cooler is adjacent to the loading dock on the east side
of the building. The on-call diagnostician can be
reached at (605) 690-1576 if problems or questions
7. Testing after hours, weekends or holidays IS NOT
AVAILABLE at the ADRDL.
FEE POLICY - DOMESTIC ANIMALS - The fee
is $42 for South Dakota clients and $48 for out-of-state
clients. This fee includes not only the rabies FA test,
but also routine histopathology and additional
laboratory testing (such as virology and/or
bacteriology) if requested or found necessary to
determine the cause of the animal's death. A $10
necropsy fee is added if a necropsy is requested for the
purpose of further diagnostics. If needed, toxicology
testing fees are extra. WILD ANIMALS - Wild animals that
originated in South Dakota and have caused a
"significant risk to human health" (see definition
below), will be accepted for rabies testing at NO CHARGE
to the submitter. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
Department pays for the testing under these
circumstances and only the rabies FA test is completed
(no additional testing). Wild animals that have not
caused a risk to human health can be submitted for
rabies testing, but the submitter will be charged the
same fee as for domestic animals. If adult bats are
submitted with bat pups (baby bats), only the adults
will be tested.
HEALTH RISK DEFINITION - The exposure of a
human or domestic animal to saliva from the suspect
animal either through a bite, exposure of mucous
membranes, exposure of an open wound, or scratches. OR
The exposure of a human or domestic animal to central
nervous system tissue from the suspect animal either
through exposure of mucous membranes or exposure of an
RESULTS AND REPORTING
1. Laboratory results are reported by telephone as soon
as they are available to the referring veterinary clinic
listed on the submission form.
2. Test results are reported as "no test" when ANY part
of the brain required for testing (per CDC guidelines)
is missing for any reason (including autolysis, trauma
and/or only half of brain submitted fresh) and the FA
result is negative.
3. Test results are also reported as "no test" when
brain tissue cannot be identified for any reason (most
often due to marked autolysis and/or severe brain
trauma) and the FA test is not performed.
4. In addition to the referring veterinary clinic, all
POSITIVE rabies FA results from domesticated animals
will also be reported to the State Health Department and
Animal Industry Board in the state where the animal
5. All POSITIVE rabies FA results from wild,
non-domesticated animals will be reported to the State
Health Department, the Animal Industry Board and Game,
Fish and Parks Department in the state where the animal
resided; additionally, the referring veterinary clinic
(if one is listed) will also be notified.
David H. Zeman, DVM, PhD, DACVP
Professor, Head and Director of the SDSU Veterinary
Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory -
Olson Biochemistry Laboratory
605 688 5172 0ffice, 605 688 6003 Fax,