**The only well-documented cases of rabies caused by human-to-human transmission occurred among eight recipients of transplanted corneas, and among three recipients of solid organs. Guidelines for acceptance of suitable cornea and organ donations, as well as the rarity of human rabies in Canada, reduce this risk.
- In addition to transmission from cornea and organ transplants, bite and non-bite exposures inflicted by infected humans could theoretically transmit rabies, but no such cases have been documented. Casual contact, such as touching a person with rabies or contact with non-infectious fluid or tissue (urine, blood, feces) does not constitute an exposure and does not require postexposure prophylaxis.
- In addition, contact with someone who is receiving rabies vaccination does not constitute rabies exposure and does not require postexposure prophylaxis.
- The rabies virus is transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. You can only get rabies by coming in contact with these specific bodily excretions and tissues.
- It's important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency but not an emergency. Decisions should not be delayed.
- Wash any wounds immediately. One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
- See your doctor for attention for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination.
- Your doctor, possibly in consultation with your local health department, will decide if you need a rabies vaccination. Decisions to start vaccination, known as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), will be based on your type of exposure and the animal you were exposed to, as well as laboratory and surveillance information for the geographic area where the exposure occurred.
What materials can spread rabies?
Contact such as petting or handling an animal, or contact with blood, urine or feces does not constitute an exposure. No postexposure prophylaxis is needed in these situations.
Rabies virus becomes noninfectious when it dries out and when it is exposed to sunlight. Different environmental conditions affect the rate at which the virus becomes inactive, but in general, if the material containing the virus is dry, the virus can be considered noninfectious.
***If you believe you have had a animal carrying rabies in your home call us to take care of any contaminated areas or materials!!!!
What kind of animal did you come in contact with?
You should seek medical attention for any animal bite. One important factor in deciding if you should have postexposure prophylaxis will be if the animal can be found and held for observation.
|Animal Type||Evaluation and Disposition of Animal||Postexposure Prophylaxis Recommendations|
|Dogs, cats, and ferrets||Healthy and available for 10 day observation||Persons should not begin vaccination unless animal develops clinical signs of rabies|
|Rabid or suspected rabid||Immediately vaccinate|
|Unknown (escaped)||Consult public health officials|
|Raccoons, skunks, foxes, and most other carnivores; Bats||Regarded as rabid unless animal is proven negative by laboratory test||Consider immediate vaccination|
|Livestock, horses, rodents, rabbits and hares, and other mammals||Consider individually||Consult public health officials. Bites of squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice, other small rodents, rabbits, and hares almost never require rabies postexposure prophylaxis.|
The likelihood of rabies in a domestic animal varies by region; hence, the need for postexposure prophylaxis also varies. In Canada, rabies among dogs is reported sporadically in Provinces where there is reported rabies in wildlife.
What type of exposure occurred?
Other factors to consider when evaluating a potential rabies exposure include the natural occurence in the area, the biting animal's history and current health status (e.g., abnormal behavior, signs of illness), and the potential for the animal to be exposed to rabies (e.g., presence of an unexplained wound or history of exposure to a rabid animal).
A currently vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret is unlikely to become infected with rabies.
When an exposure has occurred, the likelihood of rabies infection varies with the nature and extent of that exposure. Under most circumstances, two categories of exposure -- bite and nonbite -- should be considered.
BiteAny penetration of the skin by teeth constitutes a bite exposure. All bites, regardless of body site, represent a potential risk of rabies transmission, but that risk varies with the species of biting animal, the anatomic site of the bite, and the severity of the wound.
Bites by some animals, such as bats, can inflict minor injury and thus be difficult to detect.
Was the bite from a provoked or an unprovoked attack? Bites inflicted on a person attempting to feed or handle an apparently healthy animal should generally be regarded as provoked. If it was an unprovoked attack, that's more likely to indicate that the animal is rabid.
NonbiteThe contamination of open wounds, abrasions, mucous membranes, or theoretically, scratches (potentially contaminated with infectious material from a rabid animal) constitutes a nonbite exposure.
Nonbite exposures from terrestrial animals rarely cause rabies. However, occasional reports of rabies transmission by nonbite exposures suggest that such exposures should be evaluated for possible postexposure prophylaxis administration.
Other contact by itself, such as petting a rabid animal and contact with blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure and is not an indication for postexposure vaccination.
Is the animal available for testing?
If signs suggestive of rabies develop, postexposure prophylaxis should be initiated. The animal should be euthanized and its head removed and shipped, under refrigeration, for examination by a qualified laboratory.
If the biting animal is stray or unwanted, it should either be confined and observed for 10 days or be euthanized immediately and submitted for rabies examination.
Skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats that bite humans should be euthanized and tested as soon as possible. The length of time between rabies virus appearing in the saliva and onset of symptoms is unknown for these animals and holding them for observation is not acceptable.
After exposure to wildlife in which rabies is suspected, prophylaxis is warranted in most circumstances. Because the period of rabies virus shedding in wild animal hybrids is unknown, these animals should be euthanized and tested rather than confined and observed when they bite humans.
Vaccination should be discontinued if tests of the involved animal are negative for rabies infection.
What is the risk for my pet?
Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released.
Animals with expired vaccinations need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated are kept under observation for 45 days.
Small mammals such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rabbits, and hares are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in Canada. Bites by these animals are usually not considered a risk of rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving in any unusual manner and rabies is widespread in your area.
Although groundhogs were known in 1985 to be solely responsible for the rabies scare at that time.
What are the signs and symptoms of rabies?The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. These symptoms may last for days.
There may be also discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of bite, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.
The acute period of disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days. Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is typically supportive.
Disease prevention includes administration of both passive antibody, through an injection of human immune globulin and a round of injections with rabies vaccine.
Once a person begins to exhibit signs of the disease, survival is rare. To date less than 10 documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been reported and only two have not had a history of pre- or postexposure prophylaxis.
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