Should I ask for the rabies immunoglobulin?
March 17, 2013 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Please convince me I'm not going to end up like Tea Cake!!

I was nipped by a village stray in Hong Kong and he drew a little bit of blood (seemed like 2 drops...). After he bit me, I washed everything out with soap and water and then got myself to the hospital a few hours later. However, at the hospital, I was given only 2 shots: 1 for tetanus since I had no idea when I had my last booster shot and 1 for the rabies vaccine. I'm on the series of 4 shots over 14 days. After the shots, they rubbed down the wounds with 3 different kinds of antibiotics too. But, after coming home and doing a bit of searching, I found that the CDC recommends that you get the Human Rabies immunoglobulin too along with the 1st round of shots.

The nurse explained to me that if I wanted, I could report the dog bite to the police so if they found the dog and it showed signs of symptoms, they'd give me the immunoglobulin immediately. However, given that the dog looks like any brown mutt you'd find roaming the streets, it's very very very unlikely the actual dog would be found and quarantined so I declined to report it to the police.

YANAD: When I go in for my next shot in 2 days, should I ask for the immunoglobulin? Or should I go back tomorrow morning and ask? Or should I just continue the course of treatment??
posted by astapasta24 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
My boyfriend was recently bitten by a stray dog, didn't get anything beyond the tetanus and vaccine shots, and was fine. In fact, one emergency room doctor tried to persuade him that he didn't need the vaccine at all (doctor basically said, "It's up to you, man. I wouldn't do it, but if you don't do it and have rabies, you'll die.")
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 10:02 AM on March 17, 2013

Why wouldn't you? I would load up on everything as soon as I could. But I have never been in this situation.
posted by amodelcitizen at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hong Kong has a near-zero incidence of rabies. You're fine.
posted by erst at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sounds like it's not an issue in Hong Kong, therefore, if it were me, I wouldn't worry about it.

Butttt.... for the posterity of this thread and anyone searching the internet for rabies info:

Rabies is essentially always fatal and from what I've read, post-exposure prophylaxis should always include both the vaccine and the immune globulin. That's because when you get the vaccine, your body can take more than a week to produce antibodies to rabies. The immune globulin is giving you antibodies immediately, while you wait for your body to respond to the vaccine.

Also for posterity, always clean out a possibly-rabies-exposed site immediately and super well (as you did).
posted by latkes at 10:38 PM on March 17, 2013

I was bitten by a stray in a country with a serious rabies problem. I was put on the vaccine shots, but wasn't offered the immunoglobulin. The dog looked healthy to me, so I wasn't worried. I'm still alive.
posted by hellopanda at 2:50 AM on March 18, 2013

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