Bites and Rabies

Rabies is a very serious disease that affects the brain and central nervous system of mammals and people. The disease is most often transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or person. Infected animals also can spread the virus when their infected saliva enters the victim's body through a break in the skin, or rarely, through mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat).

Rabies is fatal. However, exposed people can be successfully treated before the development of symptoms by a series of vaccinations.

How Common is Rabies?

Rabies is fairly common in wild animals, which is the primary source of infection for domestic animals, including pets. Skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes and raccoons are the animals that are most frequently reported as rabies positive.

Rabies occurs in all seasons and in all regions of the country, including Texas.

Prevention Tips

  • Keep pets vaccinated. This protects them and humans. Owners of dogs and cats are required by law to keep their pets current on rabies vaccinations.
  • Keep pets in a fenced yard or on a leash, and do not allow them to roam freely.
  • Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Do not approach, pet or touch wild animals.
  • Report ill, injured and stray animals to Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256.

Rabies Symptoms

  • Bold, friendly or apparently tame wild animals.
  • Nocturnal animals, like skunks and foxes, that are seen in the daytime.
  • Pets that have difficulty walking, eating or drinking.
  • Signs of excitement or viciousness in normally quiet animals.
  • Animals that tear at or scratch an old wound until it bleeds.
  • Cattle that strain for long periods.
  • Bats that are unable to fly.

If you suspect an animal may have rabies, call Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256.

If You are Bitten or Scratched

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, treat it as if the animal were rabid, and follow these steps. They may save your life.

  • Thoroughly wash the wound right away with soap and water and rinse well. Put antiseptic on it to kill germs.
  • Identify the animal by kind, size, color and location.
  •  See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will determine what treatment you may need.
  •  Report the incident to Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256. If the animal can be captured, it will be quarantined or tested for rabies.


Read the Bat Season document (PDF) to learn more on the topic.

More Information

Access our frequently asked questions regarding the topic of animal bites and rabies. For more information visit the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) rabies resource.