Animal Bites and Rabies Risk:
A Guide for Health Professionals
Animal Bites and Rabies Risk: A Guide for Health Professionals (PDF)
This PDF file is the entire animal bites book, formatted for print. Updated 2/2018
Rabies is a fatal neurologic illness transmitted to people by direct contact with the saliva of a rabid animal, normally through a bite; however, transmission through saliva contact with mucous membranes or a fresh wound is possible. The virus cannot penetrate intact skin. Rabies virus is inactivated rapidly by ultraviolet light and desiccation and does not persist in the environment; therefore, contact with the environment around a rabid animal such as with bedding or water bowls does not present a risk.
In Minnesota, rabies is found mainly in skunks and bats. Livestock and pets generally develop the disease following a bite from a rabid skunk. People in turn, are generally exposed to rabies by bats, livestock, and unvaccinated pets. Bites from wild carnivores and large rodents such as muskrats, groundhogs, and beavers are also of concern (see: Table 1: Human Rabies Risk Evaluation: Species of the Biting Animal (PDF) for species of concern). Species that are not a rabies risk in Minnesota include mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, voles, and rabbits.
For more general information and current statistics on rabies in Minnesota see: Rabies.
- Management of Bites to Humans
Consultations on animal bites and rabies risk, evaluation of the patient following animal bites, assessment of the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, factors to consider when determining need for PEP.
- Management of Human-Bat Encounters
Bat encounters and bat bites, when a bat should be submitted for rabies testing, how to capture a bat and submit it for testing, assessment of the need for rabies PEP following a bat encounter.
- Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Regimen
Rabies PEP overview, human rabies immune globulin (HRIG), rabies vaccine, deviations from recommended PEP vaccination schedule, human rabies biologics, adverse reactions.
- Rabies Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Regimen
Who should receive rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis, pre-exposure rabies vaccination series, antibody titers and booster vaccination, laboratories offering RFFIT rabies antibody titer testing.
- Management of Animals Exposed to a Rabid Animal
What to do when an animal is exposed to another animal.
- Rabies Testing
Guidelines for submitting suspect animals for rabies testing, laboratory testing, result reporting, result follow-up, rabies testing in humans.
- Minnesota's Rabies Rules
- Frequently Asked Questions