If you have any questions or comments about filling out this form or submitting a specimen, please call 501-280-4136.

In Arkansas, bats and skunks are the main sources of rabies. Other mammals, such as raccoons, may be higher risk in other states. Only mammals, including dogs and cats, can carry and transmit rabies; birds and reptiles cannot.

The Arkansas Public Health Lab is the only laboratory in the state that is able to confirm rabies infection in animals by testing for the virus which will be present in the brain at any stage of the disease during which the virus can be transmitted. Currently, there are no reliable, standardized ante-mortem (live animal) tests that can be used to confirm whether an animal is infected with rabies. Fresh brain tissue from three sections (brainstem, cerebellum, and hippocampus) are required for this test. Brain tissue must be maintained fresh and chilled or frozen in good condition in order to receive a valid test result. Tissues should not be submitted in formalin or alcohol for this test.

If a domestic or pet animal bites a human or another animal, and the animal is not ill and there is no other reason than the biting incident to suspect rabies, the bite animal can be confined and observed for 10 days. If symptoms develop during the holding period, the animal should be euthanized and the head removed to be sent to the laboratory for testing. If no symptoms develop during the holding period, the exposed person is considered not at risk for rabies.

wild or stray animal that bites a human or another animal must always be euthanized and sent to the laboratory for testing. The head should be removed, refrigerated immediately, and submitted to the laboratory as soon as possible. The rest of the body should be incinerated or buried deep enough to prevent scavenging.

The entire body of small animals (smaller than the palm of a hand), such as bats, should be sent to the laboratory. Unless circumstances surrounding the exposure suggest rabies infection, caged rodents such as hamsters, mice, etc., should not be submitted for testing.

If there was a human or pet exposure, potentially decomposed or destroyed brains can still be submitted to the laboratory; however, these samples may not be testable. If the sample is deemed unsatisfactory, ADH will determine risk and advise on the need for post-exposure prophylaxis.

If a domestic or pet animal is exposed to a suspected rabid animal (i.e. a dog killed the skunk being submitted for testing), the pet should be vaccinated for rabies immediately while awaiting results of testing, at which time further instructions will be provided on how the exposed animal is to be handled if the tested animal is positive for rabies.

Rabies buckets and shipping boxes can be obtained from the nearest Arkansas Department of Health Local Health Unit where a courier will pick up and transport the specimen to the lab in Little Rock. Specimens received that are decomposed, damaged, or without completed paperwork may be rejected if unable to test. Specimens collected after courier pick-up, weekends, or holidays must be kept cool until next courier pick-up in order to assure freshness of the sample.

For submitting an animal encounter you can click on this link: Animal Encounter Intake Form (arkansas.gov)

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