As soon as possible after having been bitten or touched by a wild animal, particularly a raccoon, see a doctor.

Cleanse the wound immediately with soap and water or even just water to remove saliva. Squeeze the wound to promote bleeding, helping to clean it.

A doctor will use a syringe to clean the wound to its full depth, and should also treat for tetanus. You of course are keeping your tetanus boosters up to date, right? (An adult should have a tetanus booster once every 10 years, a child every five.)

A guilty dog or cat should be captured and kept under surveillance. All local jurisdictions have laws governing this. If the animal remains alive and healthy under confinement and observation by a veterinarian for at least seven days, the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases says you can assume the animal was not infective. If it dies or becomes ill, the health department should be notified and ascertain if the illness was rabies.

Any wild animal that bites a person without provocation (this is a time when honesty is the best policy) should be killed and turned over to the health department (the police know these procedures) for brain autopsy. If the attacking animal was a raccoon, remember that nondiseased raccoons are nocturnal, and not likely to be about in the daylight hours.

If the animal can't be found, the doctor will determine whether treatment should begin. Treatment is post-exposure immunization with human diploid-cell vaccine (HDCV), a series of five injections into the muscle of the upper arm over a four-week period.