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Delaware Health Alert Network #316

January 2, 2014 2:47 pm


Health Advisory
RABIES HOTLINE FOR REPORTING ANIMAL BITES AND NON-BITE EXPOSURES TO HUMANS: AVAILABLE DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS

The Delaware Division of Public Health provides guidance to healthcare providers, veterinarians, veterinary staff, and the public on the assessment of potential human exposures to the rabies virus.

Summary

Beginning January 7, 2014, calls to the Rabies Hotline (302-744-1070) will be answered only Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., during regular state office hours. During those hours, epidemiologists will continue to be available to respond to questions and concerns regarding potential human exposures to the rabies virus through animal bites and non-bite exposures.

DPH continues to maintain a 24/7 epidemiologist phone number for situations requiring Immediate public health intervention/response. When a person is suspected of having actual rabies disease (NOT just potential exposure to the virus) DPH can be reached at 1-888-295-5156. All other rabies inquiries should be directed to the Rabies Hotline during regular business hours.

Background

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a medical urgency, and not an emergency. The decision to initiate rabies PEP can normally wait until it has been determined whether an animal is available for testing or observation, or until test results become available. Therefore, recommendations regarding the administration of PEP will be provided only during regular state office hours.

Recommendations

DPH is asking healthcare providers and veterinarians to continue to report animal bite and non-bite exposures to humans using the 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 (e.g., saliva, neural fluids) from an animal suspected to be rabid. In addition, exposures to bats are more complex and so any potential contact with a bat requires more evaluation and should be reported to DPH using the aforementioned report form.

Algorithms for healthcare providers and veterinarians

Algorithms explaining reporting and treatment protocols are available on DPH’s Rabies Website at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/rabies.html. They address:

  1. Human rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) protocol for healthcare providers
  2. Veterinary management of domestic animals that potentially expose humans to the rabies virus.
Suspected cases of human rabies

Persons suspected of having rabies (i.e. an individual exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with rabies disease) should be reported to DPH immediately. An epidemiologist is available 24/7 at 1-888-295-5156.  All other calls should be directed to the Rabies Hotline during regular business hours at 302-744-1070.

Reporting of positive test results

Animals testing positive for the rabies virus will be reported to the bitten or exposed person(s) during regular state office hours, and on weekends.

Additional information

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