The DC Department of Health has confirmed a case of rabies in a dog that resided in the city. The dog died on July 20, 2017 and DOH is currently investigating any potential contact this dog had with other animals and humans. DOH is contacting all persons who may have had contact, or had a dog that may have had contact, with the rabid dog between June 30, 2017, and July 20, 2017 and advising them to have their pet examined by a veterinarian, confine their pets to their home for 45 days following the last potential contact with the infected dog and to revaccinate their dogs against rabies immediately. If you believe you had contact with this dog during this timeframe please contact DOH. If you had no contact with this dog during this time period you are not at risk.
DOH’s investigation has found no indication that other dogs or animals were bitten or scratched by the rabid dog. The chance of infection for dogs is very small and any infected dog would not pose a risk to humans or other animals at this time because the incubation period of rabies in dogs is 3 to 8 weeks on average.
The rabid dog had received a vaccination for rabies at a veterinary clinic in Virginia. DOH is working with the Virginia Department of Health to determine the circumstances under which this dog became infected with and subsequently died from rabies.
Rabies is transmissible through direct contact with a rabid animal and does not become transmissible until a few days before the infected animal develops clinical signs such as abnormal aggression, fear of light and water, and excessive salivation. Once these signs are displayed, an infected dog will die within 10 days. Unvaccinated dogs may start displaying these signs 3 to 8 weeks after being bitten or scratched by an infected animal.
A person exposed to rabies is unlikely to become sick if he or she receives preventative treatment consisting of human rabies immunoglobulin and rabies vaccinations quickly after the exposure. If treatment is not given quickly, a person infected with rabies will die. This is why it is important to see a physician immediately if you are bitten by an aggressive animal, or by an animal that is acting abnormally, especially if it was a wild animal.
District residents seeking information about rabies can email DOH at [email protected] or call (202) 442-9143 during business hours. More information about rabies can be found here: