Potential exposure to rabies is a medical urgency not an emergency, but decisions must not be delayed. Any wounds should be immediately washed with soap and water. If available, a virucidal agent such as diluted iodine solution should be used to irrigate the wounds. Medical attention from a health care professional should be sought for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination.
Report an Exposure
If you believe you may have been exposed to the rabies virus call the Maricopa County Department of Public Health at 602-747-7500 (24 hours a day).
How Rabies is Exposed
The rabies virus becomes noninfectious when it dries out and when it is exposed to sunlight. Different environmental conditions affect the rate at which the virus becomes inactive, but in general, if the material containing the virus is dry, the virus can be considered noninfectious.
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.
- Bite or puncture wound.
- Saliva, brain or nervous tissue that gets directly into eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.
Not an Exposure
- Petting or handling an animal.
- Contact with blood.
- Contact with urine/feces.
Any contact with bats requires special consideration as the rabies virus can be transmitted from a minor or unrecognized bat bite. All instances of human contact with bats should be assessed by the local health department.
For more information on avoiding contact with wild animals, visit the Living With Wildlife page at the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.