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Types of Exposure to Rabies

There are two types of exposure to the rabies virus:

  • Bite. An animal bite occurs any time your skin has been penetrated by the teeth of an animal. The location of the bite does not change the need for treatment.
  • Nonbite. Nonbite exposures (which occur when an open cut in the skin or mucous membrane is exposed to the rabies virus) rarely lead to rabies but will need treatment.

Having contact with blood, urine, or droppings (feces) from a rabid animal does not transmit the rabies virus, so no treatment is needed. But you should always avoid touching or handling wild mammals, especially bats, because of the small chance of a nonbite exposure to the rabies virus. If a bat is found in a room with a sleeping or unconscious person, contact a doctor immediately even if there is no sign of a bite. Children should also be taught to avoid bats and other wild animals whenever possible.

Recommended Related to Pets

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

  Systematic desensitization and counterconditioning are two common treatments for fears, anxiety, phobias and aggression—basically any behavior problem that involves arousal or emotional reaction. When the problem is rooted in how a dog or cat feels about a particular thing, it isn’t enough to just teach him a different behavior—like sit instead of lunge and growl. What’s most effective is treatment that will change the way he feels about something. This treatment will eliminate the underlying...

Read the Desensitization and Counterconditioning article > >

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised August 31, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 31, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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