Admission and Testing of Rabies-Suspect Animals

Last Updated: 9/9/2022

Purpose/ Applicability: Owned and unowned animals that present to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) as rabies suspects will be registered according to their ownership status and tested for rabies as appropriate.

Scope: This SOP applies to the admission of all owned domestic animals, owned zoological species, stray or unowned animals, and free-living wildlife except for bats and skunks. Bats and skunks shall not be admitted to the VTH. Bats and skunks that require rabies testing shall be admitted directly to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) or managed by Champaign County Animal Control. Bats and skunks found outside with no known exposure to people or pets will not generally be tested.


  • Free-living Wildlife - A native animal living in its natural, undomesticated state. 
  • Stray Animal – Owned animal that is not in the vicinity of or under the direct control of its owner.
  • Rabies Suspect - An animal (generally mammalian) that is showing signs consistent with rabies infection, an animal that has had known exposure to a confirmed rabies positive animal, or an unvaccinated mammal that presents a high risk of rabies transmission and that has exposed another animal or person through a bite or other form of exposure.
  • Wildlife Carnivore - Wild carnivores are considered rabies vector species and present a high-risk for exposure to rabies when bites occur. These include bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, wolves, cougar, bear, weasels, mink, etc.


1. Register the animal.

  1. Owned domestic animals that have been involved in a potential rabies exposure will be admitted routinely to the VTH.
  2. Stray animals that have been involved in a potential rabies exposure will be assigned a VTH Stray (VS) medical record number.
  3. Free-living wildlife that have been involved in a potential rabies exposure will be assigned a VTH Wildlife (WE) and/or a Wildlife Medical Clinic medical record number, consistent with admission policies for these species. 

2. Determine the vaccination status of the animal.

  1. Domestic animals will be considered vaccinated against rabies if the owner can produce evidence of vaccination, and if the vaccination status is not expired. 
  2. Stray or feral domestic animals will be considered unvaccinated against rabies unless proof of vaccination is evident (e.g., rabies tag). 
  3. Zoological species, except ferrets, are considered unvaccinated against rabies regardless of vaccination history. 
  4. Ferrets vaccinated with an approved vaccine are considered vaccinated if the animal’s vaccination status is not expired.
  5. Free-living wildlife are considered unvaccinated against rabies.

3. Report the potential rabies exposure. 

  1. Incidents that occur involving a human potentially exposed to rabies must be reported immediately to that county’s public health department. 
    i. Incidents within Champaign County should be reported to Champaign County Public Health Department (217-352-7961).
    ii. For incidents that occur outside of Champaign County, a list of local public health departments by county is available online at:
  2. Incidents that occur involving an animal potentially exposed to rabiesmust be reported immediately to that county’s animal control office. 
    i. Incidents within Champaign County should be reported to Champaign County Animal Control. (217-384-3798; after hours 217-333-8911).
    ii. For incidents that occur outside of Champaign county, a list of local animal control facilities by county is available online at: 
  3. A bite report form must be completed by the bitten individual, or their agent and submitted as per VTH Animal Bite Reporting Requirements of policy Rabies10101.

4. Determine if rabies testing is required.

  1. The animal control agency for the county in which the bite occurred will determine if rabies testing is required. 
  2. Rabies testing is likely required when:
    i. Neurologic animal that a veterinarian suspects could have rabies;no human or animal exposure is necessary for testing.
    ii. Dog, cat or ferret dying or euthanized during 10-day bite quarantine.
    iii. Bite from a free-living wildlife carnivore

5. Submit the cadaver for rabies testing.

  1. Complete the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Animal Rabies Laboratory Submission Form, Rabies Submission Form ( 
    i. All submissions for rabies testing to the VDL require a regulatory agency, veterinarian, or animal control unit as the Submitter Information on the IDPH Animal Rabies Laboratory Submission Form. 

    1. Submitter Information for Champaign County:
    Champaign County Animal Control (Dr. Susan Norris)
    PH:(217)384-3798, FAX:(217)384-1238,
    210 Art Bartell Rd., Urbana, IL 61802

    2. If the incident originated outside of Champaign County, the veterinarian for that county, and that county’s animal control agency will be listed under Submitter Information.
    ii. The exposed individual’s contact information shall also be noted on 
    the form so that they may be notified of the results.
  2. The VDL test requisition for rabies testing is entered into the patient record in SANDI.
    i. Charges associated with rabies testing will be charged to the county authorizing the testing.
    ii. Owners wishing to have rabies testing performed when not authorized by the county will be responsible for charges associated with testing.
  3. Emergency testing of suspect animals is critical for incidents involving rabies exposure of a human.
    i. In these cases, the VDL on-call pathologist should be called at (217)333-1620, and the cadaver taken to the VDL directly

KeywordsRabies, stray, suspect, wildlife, domestic, register, WMC, medical record, vaccinate, vaccination, status, test, cadaver, IDPH, Laboratory, VDL, requisition, exposure, incident, patho, Champaign   Doc ID126700
OwnerJenny C.GroupUofI College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
Created2023-03-17 12:26 CSTUpdated2023-03-17 12:40 CST
SitesUniversity of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
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