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Animal Bite & Exposure

What is an animal "exposure"?

On average, Animal Control Officers in Prince William County generate approximately 85 animal exposure reports per month. These exposure reports are generated any time a human, or in some cases a domesticated animal, are potentially exposed to rabies. Listed below is what constitutes a potential rabies exposure:

  • What is human exposure? It's any bite, scratch, or where the saliva of a potentially rabid animal enters a person's open flesh wound or has contact with a person's mucous membrane through the eye, mouth, or nose.
  • What is animal exposure? It's any circumstance where saliva from a rabid or potentially rabid animal did have or could have had direct contact with mucous membranes or a break in the skin of a domestic animal.

It is of the utmost importance that any individual who has had a potential exposure to report it immediately through the Prince William County Police non-emergency line at 703-792-6500, as well as consult with a medical professional.

As a precautionary measure, any contact with a wild animal is considered an exposure.

What is the purpose of the exposure report?

The purpose of the bite exposure report is to collect all relevant information in reference to a domesticated animal that fits the criteria for causing a human exposure or was possibly exposed to a wild animal. The bite exposure report lays out the appropriate quarantine procedure for the said animal depending on the circumstances of the exposure. This information is then sent to the Prince William County Health Department.

Why is a quarantine necessary?

The quarantine process is done to ensure that the quarantined animal is not exhibiting any symptoms of rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that affects warm-blooded mammals and is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Find more information on the rabies virus on the Prince William Health District's webpage below.

How can you prevent being exposed?

The Prince William County Animal Control Bureau encourages citizens to use caution when interacting with new domestic animals. There is always a possibility of being bitten or scratched by any animal, especially when they are put into uncomfortable or new situations. Under no circumstances should any individual come into contact with a wild animal. If you see a wild animal that appears to be in distress, is sick or injured, please call the Police Non-Emergency line at 703-792-6500.