WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See http://www.immunize.org/vis.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a serious disease. It is caused by a virus. Rabies is mainly a disease of animals. Humans get rabies when they are bitten by infected animals. At ﬁrst there might not be any symptoms. But weeks, or even months after a bite, rabies can cause pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, and irritability. These are followed by seizures, hallucinations, and paralysis. Human rabies is almost always fatal. Wild animals - especially bats - are the most common source of human rabies infection in the United States.
Who should get rabies vaccine and when?
Preventive Vaccination (No Exposure) • People at high risk of exposure to rabies, such as veterinarians, animal handlers, rabies laboratory workers, spelunkers, and rabies biologics production workers should be offered rabies vaccine. • The vaccine should also be considered for: - People whose activities bring them into frequent contact with rabies virus or with possibly rabid animals. - International travelers who are likely to come in contact with animals in parts of the world where rabies is common.
The pre-exposure schedule for rabies vaccination is 3 doses, given at the following times: Skunks, raccoons, dogs, Dose 1: As appropriate cats, coyotes, foxes Dose 2: 7 days after Dose 1 and other mammals can Dose 3: 21 days or 28 days after Dose 1 qq also transmit the disease. For laboratory workers and others who may be Human rabies is rare in repeatedly exposed to rabies virus, periodic testing for the United States. There have been only 55 cases immunity is recommended, and booster doses should be diagnosed since 1990. given as needed. (Testing or booster doses are not recHowever, between 16,000 and 39,000 people are ommended for travelers.) Ask your doctor for details. vaccinated each year as a precaution after animal bites. Vaccination After an Exposure Also, rabies is far more common in other parts of the world, with about 40,000 - 70,000 rabies-related Anyone who has been bitten by an animal, or who deaths worldwide each year. Bites from unvaccinated otherwise may have been exposed to rabies, should dogs cause most of these cases. clean the wound and see a doctor immediately. The doctor will determine if they need to be vaccinated. Rabies vaccine can prevent rabies A person who is exposed and has never been vaccinated against rabies should get 4 doses of rabies Rabies vaccine vaccine - one dose right away, and additional doses on Rabies vaccine is given to people at high risk of rabies the 3rd, 7th, and 14th days. They should also get to protect them if they are exposed. It can also prevent another shot called Rabies Immune Globulin at the the disease if it is given to a person after they have same time as the ﬁrst dose. been exposed. A person who has been previously vaccinated should get 2 doses of rabies vaccine - one right away and another Rabies vaccine is made from killed rabies virus. It on the 3rd day. Rabies Immune Globulin is not needed. cannot cause rabies.
Tell your doctor if . . .
Talk with a doctor before getting rabies vaccine if you: 1) ever had a serious (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of rabies vaccine, or to any component of the vaccine; tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies, 2) have a weakened immune system because of: - HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system, - treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, - cancer, or cancer treatment with radiation or drugs.
NOTE: Several brands of rabies vaccine are available in the United States, and reactions may vary between brands. Your provider can give you more information about a particular brand.
What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?
What should I look for? Any unusual condition, such as a severe