Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Rabies Advice to Veterinarians

Common questions about rabies



One of the most common phone calls I take from Utah veterinarians has to do with questions about rabies.

Let me make a few comments that will hopefully assist you the next time a rabies issues comes up in your practice.

1) ALL animal bites need to be reported to the appropriate animal control agency.  Bites involving humans should always involve a human physician.

2) Potential human rabies exposure that involve domesticated animals should have a veterinarian, physician, animal control officer, and local health department representatives all working together to make the best outcome possible.

3) Everyone recognizes that some animal control agencies struggle to maintain trained individuals in those positions.  This may result in an animal control officer that is not completely comfortable with the rabies rules/compendium.  This does not release the animal control agency of its responsibilities and does not allow veterinarians to ignore them or go around them.  It is important that everyone work together for the best outcome of the bite victim.

4) The State Health Department Lab has lost funding over the past several years that was used to pay for rabies testing, so they have had to prioritize which samples they will pay for and which clients will need to pay for.  I am attaching a current lab fee schedule for rabies testing.  In the past, the lab would pay for rabies testing of an animal that bit a human and the owners didn't want to wait 10 days to euthanize the animal.  This is no longer the case.  The lab will charge $95 to test an animal that has not had a 10 day quarantine.  Please see the handout for additional examples.

5) I am also including the latest rabies compendium (2011).

6) A working group is currently trying to make changes to the state rabies rules that will officially allow jurisdictions to accept rabies vaccination exempt letters from veterinarians.  There currently is nothing that either allows or disallows this practice.  I will send out information as it develops.

7) All rabies samples involving a human exposure should be submitted to the lab  by local animal control officials.

For more information contact:
Warren J. Hess, DVM
Acting State Veterinarian
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
Division of Animal Industry
350 N. Redwood Road
P.O. Box 146500
Salt Lake City, Utah  84114-6500
801-538-4910 (o)
801-870-7818 (c)
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posted: Oct. 8,2914