Rabies Exposure in Healthcare Settings
• There have been no confirmed instances of human-to-human transmission of rabies virus aside from those attributable to organ/tissue transplantation.
• Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact with infectious tissue or fluids. Rabies virus is not transmitted through contaminated objects or materials such as clothes or bedding.
• Healthcare workers providing care to patients with suspected or confirmed rabies should protect themselves by using standard precautions.
• Healthcare workers caring for patients with rabies do not pose a risk to their families or community
The most common way people get rabies is after being exposed to a rabid animal. Human-to-human transmission of rabies virus has only been documented from infected organ/tissue donors to transplant recipients. There have been no other confirmed instances of human-to-human transmission, including in healthcare settings.
Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth) with infectious tissue or fluids. Infectious tissue or fluids include tears, nervous tissue, saliva, and respiratory tract fluids. Blood, urine, and feces are not infectious. The exposure of intact skin to infectious tissue or fluids rarely constitutes a risk for virus transmission. Rabies is not transmitted through contaminated objects or materials such as clothes or bedding. Rabies virus is fragile and is killed by desiccation (drying out), ultra-violet light, and common disinfectants.
Healthcare workers providing care to patients with suspected or confirmed rabies (i.e., encephalitis of unknown origin) should protect themselves by using standard precautions. This includes wearing gowns, goggles, masks, and gloves, particularly during intubation and suctioning. Healthcare workers caring for patients with rabies do not pose a risk to their families or community.
- Standard Precautions
- State and Local Consultations Contact
- Human Rabies Prevention, Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
- Rabies Biologics
- Vora NM, Basavaraju SV, Feldman KA, et al. Raccoon Rabies Virus Variant Transmission Through Solid Organ Transplantation. JAMA. 2013;310(4):398–407.external icon
- Srinivasan A, Burton EC, Kuehnert MJ, et al. Transmission of rabies virus from an organ donor to four transplant recipients. N Engl J Med. 2005;352(11):1103-1111. external icon