Norman County

In the Heart of the Red River Valley


Rabies is a fatal neurologic illness transmitted to people by direct contact with the saliva of a rabid animal, normally through a bite; however, transmission through saliva contact with mucous membranes or a fresh wound is possible. The virus cannot penetrate intact skin. Rabies virus is inactivated rapidly by ultraviolet light and desiccation and does not persist in the environment; therefore, contact with the environment around a rabid animal such as with bedding or water bowls does not present a risk. In Minnesota, rabies is found mainly in skunks and bats. Livestock and pets generally develop the disease following a bite from a rabid skunk. People in turn, are generally exposed to rabies by bats, livestock and unvaccinated pets. Bites from wild carnivores and large rodents such as muskrats, groundhogs, and beaver are also of concern (see Table 1 for species of concern). Species that are not a rabies risk in Minnesota include mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, voles, and rabbits.

Human Rabies Risk Evaluation: Species of the biting animal