The Delaware Division of Public Health would like to remind all healthcare providers, veterinarians, veterinary staff, and others regarding the requirement to report all potential human exposures to the rabies virus (through animal bites and non-bite exposures) to the Division of Public Health (DPH), Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. All mammalian bites/non-bite exposures (described below) are to be reported regardless of vaccination status or ownership.
Under Delaware law, Title 3, Chapter 82 of the Delaware Code (Rabies Control in Animal and Human Populations), any medical practitioner, hospital, veterinarian or other person having knowledge of the event is required to report all cases where humans were potentially exposed to the rabies virus through animal bites or non-bite exposures by any animal capable of transmitting rabies. All mammalian bites/scratches are required to be reported – regardless of the vaccination status or ownership of the animal.
These reports assist DPH and animal control officers in suppressing the spread of rabies among the domestic and wild animal populations, providing safeguards against exposure of citizens to this disease, and preventing the introduction of this virus by the importation of animals or species of animals known to be vectors or carriers.
DPH is asking healthcare providers and veterinarians to report all animal bite and non-bite exposures to humans using the “Human Exposure to Rabies” report form available on the DPH website at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/rabies.html.
Bite exposures comprise any penetration of the skin by teeth. Non-bite exposures include scratches and contamination of open wounds, abrasions, or mucous membranes with potentially infectious material (i.e., saliva, neural fluids) from any mammal. In addition, exposures to bats are more complex and any potential contact with a bat requires more evaluation and should be reported to DPH using the aforementioned form.
Reports should be sent by fax to the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (OIDE) as soon as possible after learning of the exposure at 302-223-1540.
For further information, call DPH OIDE at 302-744-4990 or 888-295-5156.
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