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Can a vaccinated dog give you rabies?

Can a vaccinated dog give you rabies?

Injuries to humans by biting animals are significant public health problem. Serious injury, viral and bacterial infections, psychological trauma, and even death can be complications of animal bites. The number of animal bites can be reduced if the public practices responsible pet ownership, by controlling stray animals, and by enforcement of animals control laws and ordinances.

Most animal bites wounds that come to the attention of medical and/or public health practitioners will consist of puncture wounds, scratches and abrasions. Severe attacks may produce crushing injuries to bones, especially in children. One of the most steps in preventing rabies and other infections following an animal bite is vigorously wash bite wounds with soap and water for 15 minutes. A tetanus booster is often given to previously immunized victims if more than 5 years have elapsed since the last administration. If no history of tetanus vaccination the individual is often vaccinated.

Young children are especially vulnerable to animal bites and should be properly protected. Rabies is a viral infection of the nervous system that may affect almost any warm-blooded animal. In Los Angeles County, this disease is commonly present in bats. About 10 percent of the bats tested by the health department have rabies. The last rabid skunk in Los Angeles County was detected in 1979. The last domestic animal with rabies was a cat which came from Mexico in 1987.

Man is usually exposed to rabies by direct contact (bites) with rabid wildlife or by contact with dogs or cats which have acquired the infection from rabid wildlife.

Although rabies is almost always fatal, vaccination is highly effective in preventing it. Control of rabies depends on public awareness of the signs and hazards of the disease, stringent enforcement of animal control regulations, and upon immunization of dogs and cats.

When a known rabid animal bites a dog or a cat what should be done?

Unvaccinated dogs and cats bitten by a known rabid animal should be destroyed immediately. If the owner is unwilling have this done, the animal should be vaccinated and placed in strict isolation for 180 days. If the dog or cat has been vaccinated within one year, it should be revaccinated immediately, quarantined for 30 days and then restrained by the owner (leashing and confinement) for an additional 60 days.

When a dog or cat bites a person what should be done?

Unvaccinated and vaccinated dogs and cats that bite a person, must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infective at the time of the bite, sign of rabies in the animal will usually follow rather quickly and certainly within 10 days.

When a wild animal is involved in an attack on a person what should be done?

The animal should be euthanized immediately and the head should be submitted to the lab for rabies testing.

When a person has been exposed to a rabid animal what should be done?

The person should contact their physician and explain the situation. If the physician feels that the person is at risk of contracting rabies, he/she will begin anti-rabies treatments on the person.

Who should be treated for rabies?

Person who are bitten by, or have significant exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a confirmed rabid animal should begin treatment as soon as possible. Persons exposed to a suspected rabid animal should begin treatment, if the animal is not available for quarantine or testing.

What is the treatment for a person exposed to a rabid animal?

The person is given rabies vaccines and rabies immunoglobulin. The rabies vaccine and anti-serum in current use have excellent safety records and when given early are highly effective. The immunoglobulin is called the Human Anti-Rabies Immunoglobulin or HRIG (dosage depends on weight) given on day 0. The rabies vaccine is given on day 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28.

Since the chances of developing the disease are much greater than the chances of adverse reaction to the vaccine, anti-rabies treatment should be administered in all cases of known or uncertain exposure.

What is the most important measure in preventing infection of an animal bite?

Immediate and thorough washing of any bite or scratch wound with soap and water. Simple local wound cleaning has been shown to markedly reduce the likelihood of rabies in animal experiments. Tetanus and antibiotic prophylaxis should be given as indicated.

Investigation of Animal Bites

All animal bites must be investigated in California. In general, data on the biting animal, the victim, the circumstances of the bite, the name of the animal’s owner (if any), and the rabies vaccination status of the biting animal should collected. The circumstances of the bite are especially important for determining if the bite was provoked. Provoked bites are considered to be of lower rabies risk, all things being equal, than an unprovoked bite.

A rapid investigation of the bite should be completed in order to identify and capture, if possible, the biting animal and to determine whether rabies post-exposure prophylaxis for the victim is needed.

Although the bites of rodents, rabbits, etc. are at extremely low risk for transmitting rabies, such bites still need to be attended to in order to prevent infections with other diseases.

Management of Animals that Bite People

A healthy dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person should be confined and observed for 10 days; it is recommended that rabies vaccine not be administered during the observation period. Such animals should be evaluated by a public health veterinarian at the first sign of illness during confinement. Any illness in the animal should be reported immediately to the local health department. (Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health: 877-747-2243) If signs suggestive of rabies develop, the animal should be euthanized, its head removed, and the head shipped under refrigeration (not frozen) for examination of the brain by a qualified laboratory designated by the local or state health department. All biting animals which might have exposed a person to rabies should be reported immediately to the local health department. Prior vaccination of an animal may not preclude the necessity for euthanasia and testing if the period of virus shedding is unknown for that species. Management of animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets depends on the species, the circumstances of the bite, the epidemiology of rabies in the area, and the biting animal’s history, current health status, and potential for exposure to rabies.

Evaluation of Encounters with Rabies Suspects

When a person or domestic animal has encountered a potentially rabid animal, an evaluation is necessary to determine: 1) whether a true exposure occurred; and 2) whether the potentially rabid animal should be quarantined or tested for rabies.

Has a true exposure occurred?

Encounters with a rabid animal can lead to rabies transmission when virus from the animal’s saliva, brain tissue, or spinal fluid enters open cuts or wounds in skin or mucous membranes. Therefore, not every encounter with a rabid animal is a true exposure requiring intervention. Treatment is often provided unnecessarily to people who have encountered but had no true exposure to a potentially rabid animal.

Bite exposure is considered any penetration of the skin by an animal’s teeth. Local wound care should be performed immediately on anyone bitten by an animal. A health care provider should be consulted to determine whether or not other measures are necessary. Animal bites are reportable in California.

Non-bite exposures include any scratches, abrasions, or contamination of mucous membranes by an infected animal’s saliva, brain tissue, or spinal fluid. Other types of contacts (such as with the blood, urine, feces, or fur of an animal) would not by themselves be considered exposures capable of transmitting rabies even if the animal were known to be rabid. The virus is not hardy; once dry, saliva containing rabies virus is considered non-infectious.

If a true exposure occurred, should the potentially rabid animal be quarantined or be tested?

Whether to a) quarantine or to b) test an animal depends on the type of animal involved. These guidelines are derived from the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) and the recommendations of National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

Dogs and cats: A dog (excluding dog-wolf hybrids) or cat that has bitten, scratched, or otherwise exposed a human should be confined and observed for 10 days under local health department supervision, regardless of whether or not the animal is currently vaccinated. Any dog or cat that is sick at the time it exposed a human should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.

In most places in Los Angeles County, such an animal can be confined at home by its owner. Rabies vaccination should not be administered to the animal during this period. If the confined animal develops any illness during the 10 days, a veterinarian should evaluate it immediately.

If signs of rabies are present, the local health department should be contacted, and the animal euthanized and tested for rabies. A dog or cat that develops no signs of rabies during this observation period did not have transmissible rabies at the time the exposure occurred.

Note that the 10 day observation applies only to dogs or cats that have exposed a human. Quarantine periods for animals that have themselves been potentially exposed to rabies are much longer.

All other animals: All other animals that expose humans should be reported to the local health department immediately. No observation periods have been established for such animals (including wolf hybrids). If the animal is available, laboratory testing may be indicated depending upon the circumstances of the exposure (such as whether it was provoked or not) and the species involved. The risks associated with different animals varies from place to place.

Bats: A bat that bites or otherwise exposes a human should be safely captured, euthanized, and submitted to the Public Health Laboratories (PHL) for rabies testing..

Determining whether an exposure to a rabid bat occurred is often difficult. Bats are small and have small teeth, so their bites may be difficult to recognize. Exposure may have taken place when there is reasonable probability that such contact unknowingly occurred (e.g., a sleeping person awakes to find a bat in the room or an adult witnesses a bat in the room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled or intoxicated person, or incompletely vaccinated pet). When available the bat should be tested immediately. The presence of a bat inside a building is not by itself sufficient to result in rabies transmission.

If an unvaccinated animal is bitten by a rabid animal what should be done?

When the exposed animal is unvaccinated, euthanasia is recommended. Alternatively, the owner has the option of arranging for a 6-month strict confinement. Confinement must be strict because of the special public health risks associated with these animals (i.e., those potentially incubating rabies), and the need to prevent human and other animal exposures form occurring should rabies symptoms develop.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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Answer: Rabies is an infectious viral disease that invades the central nervous system of humans and other furbearing, warm-blooded animals. A wide variety of mammals can contract the disease, but it occurs most often in skunks, bats, cats, dogs, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and livestock.

Q: How is Rabies transmitted?

People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound. Worldwide, more than 55,000 humans die of rabies each year, primarily in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of such cases result from bites inflicted by rabid dogs. In the United States, transmission from dogs is becoming a rarity due to successful dog vaccination programs. Careless handling is the primary cause of rabies transmission from bats. Rabies virus has not been isolated from bat blood, urine or feces, and there is no evidence of air-borne transmission in buildings. No transmission from bats to dogs is known to have occurred, although rare cases of transmission to cats have been documented. Transmission from person to person is theoretically possible since the saliva of an infected person may contain virus, but this has never been documented.

Q: Can I get rabies in any way other than an animal bite?

Answer: Non-bite exposures to rabies are very rare. Scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes contaminated with saliva or other potentially infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal constitute non-bite exposures.

Inhalation of aerosolized rabies virus is also a potential non-bite route of exposure, but other than laboratory workers, most people are unlikely to encounter an aerosol of rabies virus.

Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces (e.g., guano) or spray (e.g. skunk spray) of a rabid animal does not constitute an exposure and is not an indication for prophylaxis.

Q: How soon after an exposure should I seek medical attention?

Answer: Medical assistance should be obtained as soon as possible after an exposure. There have been no vaccine failures in the United States (i.e., someone developed rabies) when postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) was given promptly and appropriately after an exposure.

Q: What medical attention do I need if I am exposed to rabies?

Answer: One of the most effective methods to decrease the chances for infection involves thorough washing of the wound with soap and water. Specific medical attention for someone exposed to rabies is called postexposure prophylaxis or PEP. In the United States, postexposure prophylaxis consists of a regimen of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period. Rabies immune globulin and the first dose of rabies vaccine should be given by your health care provider as soon as possible after exposure. Additional doses or rabies vaccine should be given on days 3, 7 and 14 after the first vaccination. Current vaccines are relatively painless and are given in your arm, like a flu or tetanus vaccine.

Q: How do I obtain Rabies vaccination?

Answer: (Post Exposure Immunization)
See your family doctor or go to a hospital emergency room. Have the physician consult with the Arkansas Department of Health (501-661-2000) on the necessity for treatment. If you have been exposed to a rabid or suspect rabid animal post-exposure treatment is effective with the following products. The physician can obtain the vaccines from their pharmaceutical suppliers. The Health Department does not maintain a supply of vaccine but is always available for consultation on the risk of rabies from any exposure.

Post-exposure Rabies treatment includes four (4) doses of Human Diploid Cell Vaccine in addition to administration of Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) at the rate of 2 ml for every 33 lbs. of body weight. HRIG, as much as is anatomically feasible, should be infiltrated into and around the wound. Any remaining product should be administered intramuscularly in the deltoid or quadriceps (at a location other than that used for vaccine inoculation to minimize potential interference). Administer the total dose of immune globulin on day 0. One dose of HDCV is administered on each of Days 0, 3, 7 and 14.

(Individuals who are uninsured and need financial assistance with rabies vaccine may contact Sanofi Pasteur at (866) 801-5655 or Rx Hope at 800-244-7668.)

Q: Will the rabies vaccine make me sick?

Answer: Adverse reactions to rabies vaccine and immune globulin are not common. Newer vaccines in use today cause fewer adverse reactions than previously available vaccines. Mild, local reactions to the rabies vaccine, such as pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site, have been reported. Rarely, symptoms such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness have been reported. Local pain and low-grade fever may follow injection of rabies immune globulin.

Q: What if I cannot get rabies vaccine on the day I am supposed to get my next dose?

Answer: Consult with your doctor or state public health officials for recommended times if there is going to be a change in the recommended schedule of shots. Rabies prevention is a serious matter and changes should not be made in the schedule of doses.

Q: Can rabies be transmitted from one person to another?

Answer: The only well-documented documented cases of rabies caused by human-to-human transmission occurred among 8 recipients of transplanted corneas, and recently among three recipients of solid organs (see MMWR article). Guidelines for acceptance of suitable cornea and organ donations, as well as the rarity of human rabies in the United States, 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.

Q: What are the symptoms of Rabies?

Answer: Rabies causes fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms usually develop in three to eight weeks after exposure. Early symptoms in humans include pain, burning, and numbness at the site of infection. Victims complain of headaches, inability to sleep, irritability, muscle spasms of the throat and difficulty swallowing. Loss of ability to control one’s movements occurs, followed by delirium, coma, and death in about one to three weeks.

Q: Is there a cure for Rabies?

Answer: No, once symptoms appear, death follows in a few days.

For More Information

  • CDC’s Rabies
  • Public Health Lab’s FAQ
  • Never Touch a Bat

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            Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Pets

            Washington State rule, WAC 246-100-197, says: An owner of a dog, cat, or ferret shall have it vaccinated against rabies and revaccinated following veterinary and vaccine manufacturer instructions. An «owner» is any person legally responsible for the care and actions of a pet animal.

            Dog, cat, and ferret

            All dogs, cats, and ferrets in Washington must have up-to-date rabies vaccines. Rabies is a deadly virus that can affect people and animals. Any mammal can get rabies. However, bats are the only animal in Washington known to carry rabies. In other states, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are known to carry rabies.

            How common is rabies in Washington?

            We have rabid bats in our state. People import animals from countries with dog rabies increasing the potential of bringing in rabid animals. Each year, about 400 to 600 animals are tested for rabies, mostly bats. We find rabid bats in Washington every year. The last reported case of rabies in an animal other than a bat in our state was in 2015. A cat developed rabies after catching a rabid bat. The last reported cases of people infected with rabies in Washington were in 1995 and 1997. See rabies activities in Washington.

            If so few people get rabies, why do I have to vaccinate my pets?

            Every year in Washington, hundreds of people must undergo the series of shots to prevent rabies, called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, because they are potentially exposed to the virus. If we control rabies in domestic animals, we can reduce the number of potential human rabies cases. Pets are more likely to contact wild animals, such as bats, that may have rabies. Vaccinating pets is one of the best ways to protect people and pets. By reducing the risk, fewer people will need costly, and stressful, rabies treatment shots.

            Why must people receive shots after being exposed to a potentially rabid animal?

            Rabies is deadly to people if untreated. We treat people with a series of rabies treatment shots. The shots can stop rabies if given soon after someone is exposed to the virus.

            Wouldn’t it just be easier to vaccinate people for rabies?

            Preventing rabies from spreading in animals is the best way to protect people. Many wild animals can carry rabies. Fortunately, the only wild animals in Washington that currently carry rabies are bats. Vaccinating pets is an important part of making sure rabies does not become more widespread in other animals in our state. There is a rabies vaccine for people in high-risk occupations, like veterinarians and animal control officers, that is given before being exposed to a potentially rabid animal. It consists of three shots at a cost of about $200 per shot ($600 total). Rabies vaccines for animals cost $7-20 (average cost is $12). The first booster shot is needed after one year, and subsequent boosters typically every three years.

            Will I be fined for not having my pets vaccinated?

            There is no enforcement at the state level, however the intent of this new rule is to educate pet owners about the rabies vaccine and encourage them to protect their pets, themselves, and their families by vaccinating. Any enforcement would come from cities or counties. Some communities already require proof of rabies vaccination in order to get a pet license. Contact your city or county animal control office or local health department if you have other questions.

            Why should I have my animals vaccinated?

            • Vaccinating pets prevents them from getting rabies and is one of the most effective ways in preventing rabies exposure in people.
            • If your dog, cat, or ferret is not vaccinated, and is bitten by a stray or wild animal, the pet needs to be confined and observed for six months. This strict confinement of a pet could cost a significant amount of money and could harm the animal physiologically. If the pet develops signs of rabies while in confinement, it must be euthanized to be tested for rabies.
            • The health risk, stress, and financial burden of a pet potentially being exposed to rabies are significantly less if the pet is vaccinated. Rabies vaccines for pets are an inexpensive way to protect people and other animals. It is worth spending a few dollars to vaccinate your pet instead of spending thousands of dollars on confinement and the potential tragedy of losing your pet.

            My cat never goes outside, so why would I get a rabies vaccine?

            We frequently get reports of bats, which can carry rabies, getting into houses. Cats can get rabies from playing with or killing a rabid bat. For information on how to «bat proof» your home.

            Why are ferrets required to get rabies shots?

            There is an effective vaccine developed for ferrets. Since bats sometimes get into houses, and ferrets often go outside with their owners, ferrets are just as much at risk for rabies infection as any other animal. They live in close contact with people and frequently escape from their owners.

            Where can I get low-cost rabies vaccines?

            This rule was created with the help of veterinary medical professionals. Many veterinarians have told us they will help people protect their pets and their communities with low-cost rabies vaccines. You can also contact private veterinarians, animal shelters, and animal organizations in your community who can suggest low-cost options.


            Washington State Rabies Rule

            WAC 246-100-197 Rabies-Measures to prevent human illness — Washington state rabies rule which includes pet owner vaccination requirements, animal exhibitor requirements, importation and movement restrictions for certain mammals, and local health officer authority when dealing with rabid or suspected rabid animals.

            Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control (PDF) — State rabies rule is based upon the national guidance.

            Rabies Fact Sheet

            Rabies Frequently Asked Questions — Rabies symptoms in people, how it is spread, what to do about animal bites, how to reduce your risk of exposure, and pre-and post-exposure vaccines for people.

            Rabies Control Ordinance

            Some city or county governments have a rabies control ordinance to enforce vaccination requirements. If a local community wants to adopt or update a rabies control ordinance, here are some helpful resources.

            Pet Import and Export Requirements

            Pet Import and Export — Requirements for dogs, cats, and ferrets — State and federal health requirements for pets traveling to or from Washington.

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