Our animal bites services include Rabies testing and animal bite investigation, as well as disease investigation and reporting.


Rabies is a viral disease of mostly wild animals and is transmitted primarily through bites to humans. Less often, contamination through open wounds or mucous membranes with saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal could potentially constitute an exposure.

Rabies is found naturally in Missouri, occurring primarily in bats and skunks, although other domestic species such as dogs, cats, horses, and cattle are infected each year. Rabies in humans is almost invariably fatal once symptoms appear.

Fortunately, anti-rabies shots have been developed for persons exposed to the virus to prevent infection.

Rabies Protection

Things you can do to protect yourself from rabies include:

  • Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets. This not only protects your pets from rabies but is a barrier of protection for you.
  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites. Teach your children to be careful around dogs and to practice basic safety tips to prevent a bite.
  • Always ask the owner for permission before petting a dog.
  • Pet a dog gently; do not hug dogs.
  • Avoid eye contact with dogs.
  • Do not bother a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • If an unknown dog comes near, stay still and quiet.

Dogs usually bite someone because they feel threatened and are protecting themselves. Keep these tips in mind to keep your family safe when around dogs.

  • Always supervise children when around dogs.
  • Use caution with dogs you don’t know.
  • Before approaching a dog, invite the dog to you.
  • Learn to read dog body languages such as facial expressions and body postures.
  • Protect your dog, vaccinate for rabies.

If you or your child is bitten by an animal, call your doctor right away after an animal bite. Find out if rabies treatment or other medical care is needed.

Animal Control

Call animal control to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. Never handle, feed or intentionally attract wild animals. Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals. Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces such as homes, churches or schools. When traveling abroad, avoid contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries as rabies is common in many developing countries.

If you suspect you or your pet may have been exposed to rabies, you should contact your physician or veterinarian.

Reporting an animal bite

It is the responsibility of a person bitten by an animal, or the parent or guardian of a minor bitten by an animal, to report the bite to a physician and/or the Sullivan County Health Department immediately:

Please have the following information prior to reporting:

  • Name and address of the animal’s owner (if available)
  • Date, time, and location of the bite incident
  • Location on the body where the person was bitten
  • General description of the biting animal

The report should be made to the Sullivan County Health Dept. At (660)265-4141 during normal business hours 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Animal Bites After Business Hours

After normal business hours or on weekends and holidays report to the emergency room (if necessary) or contact local law enforcement.

The biting animal may be infected with the rabies virus. Domestic animals involved in bite incidents must be observed for 10 days to ensure that they do not have rabies infection. Wild animals, for example, bats, raccoons, and skunks may also be infected with the rabies virus. If the domestic animal can’t be observed for 10 days or if the bite was from a wild animal not available for laboratory analysis a vaccine for humans is available to safeguard the bitten person from developing rabies infection. If the shots are not given and the biting animal was suffering from rabies there is a high probability that the person will contract rabies. Rabies infections that develop in humans are 100% fatal. Therefore, it is urgent that bites be promptly reported so that medical guidance can be immediately given.

Rabies reports