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IDPH - Question of the Week

Bats are the only animals that can carry rabies.


All mammals can get rabies. Animals in Iowa are infected with rabies every year; some animals are more likely to be infected than others. For example, wild animals (especially skunks and bats) most often get rabies. All domestic animals (such as dogs, cats, horses, and cattle) can be infected. Rodents (such as squirrels, hamsters, and mice) and rabbits very rarely get rabies.

Anyone can get rabies after exposure to a rabid animal. Rabies is spread when the virus from the animal's saliva gets through a person's skin via bites or contact to wounds or contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with the infected animal’s brain or spinal cord tissue.

IDPH provides consultation to help health care providers, veterinarians, and the public to determine whether a potential exposure occurred. Rabies exposure consultation can be obtained from the Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology:

During business hours call: (800) 362-2736. After hours call: (515) 323-4360 (the Iowa State Patrol will contact the person on call).

For more information about rabies, click here.

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