Bites from animals can be a risk for more than rabies. They can cause serious injury, such as nerve or tendon damage, and the can lead to local and even systemic infections. Seek medical attention for any bite wound so that proper treatment can be initiated. You may also need to receive a tetanus booster if you have not been immunized in more than 10 years.
Immediate irrigation of the wound with water or a dilute water providone-iodine solution has been shown to markedly decrease the risk of bacterial infection. Animal studies have shown that careful wound cleaning alone can markedly reduce the risk of rabies infection.
Rabies Postexposure Treatment:
To prevent rabies in a person that has potentially been exposed to rabies, a series of injections must be initiated and completed. For people who have never received rabies vaccinations in the past, treatment must include the administration of both rabies antibody (rabies immune globulin, or HRIG) and vaccine. This combination treatment is recommended for both bite and non-bite exposures, regardless of the time that has passed between the exposure and the start of treatment. The dosage of HRIG is determined by how much a patient weighs. Depending on the calculated volume, the HRIG dosage may need to be administered in more than one site, typically on the first day that treatment is started. Rabies vaccine is a standard volume for all patients, regardless of size. Rabies vaccine is then administered in a series, with the first dose given on the first day of treatment (Day 0). Follow-up doses of vaccine are administered on days 3, 7, and 14. Additional doses may be necessary for people with certain underlying health conditions. Rabies vaccine should be given at this recommended interval for best results. Discuss any changes to the recommended schedule with your healthcare provider.
People who have been previously vaccinated against rabies only need to receive rabies vaccine. They do not need to receive any HRIG. Treatment for previously vaccinated persons is two doses of vaccine, one each administered on Day 0 (first day of treatment) and Day 3.