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**The ADH does NOT PAY FOR or PROVIDE the rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) at any local health unit. Please see the healthcare professional page for locations that do provide PEP. Consultation with ADH is NOT required for PEP administration, but all animal bites are required to be reported using the link on the animal bites page

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects the nervous system of warm-blooded animals, particularly mammals. It is usually spread by an infected animal biting another animal or person. Rabies is a fatal disease that almost always leads to death unless treatment is provided soon after exposure. In Arkansas, rabies lives and circulates in wild skunks and bats. Any mammal can become infected with rabies, including domestic pets such as dogs and cats, agricultural animals such as cows and horses, and people when they are exposed to rabid wildlife.

Arkansas rabies law requires that all dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age by a licensed veterinarian, veterinary technician, veterinary technician specialist, or veterinary technologist. One-shot is not enough; rabies vaccinations must be kept current so talk with your veterinarian about when your pet needs its rabies booster shots.

If you find a bat in your home, isolate it to one room, leave the room, and close the doors. Call either an animal control officer or a nuisance wildlife control company to capture the bat for testing. Most human rabies cases in the United States are due to unrecognized or unreported exposures to bats. Most bats do not carry rabies; only about 2-3 percent of bats are infected. We cannot tell if wildlife are infected by looking at them; a laboratory test is required to determine rabies infection in wildlife.

The Arkansas State Public Health Laboratory tests animals for rabies. They test wildlife that has bitten or exposed a person or domestic animal. They also test pets that have bitten or exposed a person, get sick with signs of rabies, or die during 10-day confinement after biting a person. The laboratory will also test agricultural animals that show signs of brain disease or have potentially exposed a person. The laboratory discourages testing small rodents such as mice, rats, hamsters, etc., as they have never been known to transmit rabies to people and are not considered a risk for rabies exposure.

Contact the State Public Health Veterinarian by phone or email if you have questions.

Maps and Data

Rabies Activity in Arkansas: 20232022 | 2021 | 2020
Positive Animal Rabies Results 1990-2018
Rabies Surveillance in the U.S. during 2020
Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC)
Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) - Bats and Rabies Video
Animal Rabies Compendium
Human Rabies Prevention-Recommendations on the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices
BOH Rabies Rule
CDC Rabies
AVMA Rabies and Your Pet
Rabies Control Act
Office Address Phone Fax
Zoonotic Disease 4815 W. Markham St., Slot 62
Little Rock, AR
501-661-2381  501-280-4431 

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
© 2017 Arkansas Department of Health. All Rights Reserved.
4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867