What are the immediate steps I need to take in case of an animal bite?

  • Wash the bite area with soap and water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Cover the bite area with a clean bandage.
  • Call your doctor and go to a nearby emergency room.
  • If you know the animal’s owner, get all the information about the animal, including vaccination status and owner's name and address. Call your local health department, especially if the animal hasn't been vaccinated.
  • If you don't know the animal’s owner or if a wild animal bites you, immediately call your local animal control authorities to get help finding the animal that caused the bite. The animal will need to be confined and observed for signs of rabies.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2019.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies. www.cdc.gov/rabies. Accessed 6/4/2019.
  • World Health Organization. Rabies. www.who.int. Accessed 6/4/2019.

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