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Animal bites and other potential rabies exposures (OPRE) should be reported to the local health department WITHIN 24 HOURS for two reasons:

  1. The public health concern from potential rabies transmission.
  2. The injury that can result from a bite. Local health departments investigate animal bites to determine the risk of exposure to rabies and the need for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for a victim.
Encounters with dogs and cats account for the majority of animal bites and OPRE reports in West Virginia. For animal bites caused by dogs, cats, and ferrets, the animal is required by law to be confined for 10 days to rule out human exposure to rabies. If the animal is not available for confinement or testing for rabies, the bite victim may need to get PEP; depending on the circumstance, type of exposure, and the type of animal involved.