Animal Bites are investigated by the Benton-Franklin Health District for the sole purpose of determining whether or not rabies could have been transmitted to the victim of the bite.  Rabies is a rare disease caused by a virus that affects all mammals. It can be carried by any mammal and transmitted by an infected mammal to another through a bite or scratch that breaks the skin or through contact with a mucus membrane. The rabies virus attacks the brain and nervous system, leading to death. Whenever a human is bitten by a mammal that is capable of transmitting the rabies virus, the Health Department is responsible for attempting to have the animal is confined by the owner for a period of ten days after the bite for rabies observation. The only animals that can be confined are dogs, cats and ferrets.

Animals bite for many reasons (protecting their young or territory, if they are hurt, as a result of being tormented) and you should not assume that the animal that bit you has rabies. In Washington State, the risk of contracting rabies from an animal is extremely low. In fact the only mammal in Washington known to carry rabies is the bat. Often, there will be no instances of rabies in cats or dogs in the state of Washington. There have been two (2) cases of rabies in cats, one in 2002 in Walla Walla County and one in 2015 in Jefferson County. The cats were infected by a bat