When would they quarantine?
November 14, 2009 6:47 PM   Subscribe

If I was bit by a rabid animal, how long would it take until I was a risk to other humans?

I was bit by a feral cat on Thursday...I went to the ER and they started the rabies PEP treatment. So far I've only had the immunoglobulin shot.

Would contact with my saliva/blood, this soon after exposure, carry any chance whatsoever of transmitting the virus? Is the answer the same whether or not I had that first shot?

This is probably a stupid question - but I just need to be sure.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're not a risk yet. Rabies develops slowly, which is why you can get vaccination (that's what the shots are) after you've been infected and it will still protect you.

The risk would be the same (zero) whether you had gotten that first shot.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:54 PM on November 14, 2009

From the CDC:

"Can rabies be transmitted from one person to another?

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.

For more information on person-to-person transmission of rabies, see: Fekadu, M., Endeshaw, T., Alemu, W., Bogale, Y., Teshager, T., & Olson, J. G. (1996). Possible human-to-human transmission of rabies in Ethiopia. Ethiopia Medical Journal, 34, 123-127."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:54 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is an interesting story about rabies.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry you're going through this. I had contact with a bat in my sleep last year and had to have PEP (it was tested and cleared, fortunately). My understanding is that the primary risk is when the skin is broken, not simply "contact". As with HIV, it needs to get into your bodily fluids, and doesn't survive long on surfaces.

So first of all you have the low risk that you contracted rabies from your exposure. Cats are not a significant reservoir of rabies anymore due to widespread vaccination requirements. Second of all you have the low risk of saliva/blood contact. And third you have the low risk of broken skin in the person you're touching.

And anyway, incubation periods in humans (who don't receive PEP as you are now) can be as long as one year before it affects the person exposed. That's with it swimming around in you with unrestricted access to your brain.

So unless you bit someone following the cat biting you, you very likely have not put anyone at risk.
posted by dhartung at 8:03 PM on November 14, 2009

Wow, KokuRyu, that was a fascinating story.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:06 PM on November 14, 2009

If you're asking because you fooled around with someone, please tell them immediately so they can see a doctor. Don't let random non-doctors on the internet dictate this person's health.
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:38 PM on November 14, 2009

I was scratched by a bat in 2006 and had the post exposure vaccine. Nothing in my convos with the doc, or any internet research led me to believe I could pass it on to my partners. Anyone I've snogged in the interim is still hale and hearty, as am I, but don't rely on internet strangers, just chat to your doc next time you have your shot.
posted by poissonrouge at 9:23 AM on November 15, 2009

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