Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the treatment given to people exposed to a potential, or known, rabid animal. PEP includes one dose of rabies immune globulin, and a series of 4 doses of rabies vaccine given over a 14 day period.
Depending on the availability of the animal for rabies testing and the severity of the exposure, PEP may not begin right away. When an exposure occurs, there is a 10-day waiting period while attempts are made to locate, restrain, and observe
the animal. If the animal is found within
the 10-day period and can be observed, then the
vaccine series can be avoided. If the animal is not found during the 10-day period,
then the victim is notified and instructed to start
the PEP treatment.
Rabies immune globulin and the first dose of rabies vaccine are given on the day of the bite/exposure (referred to as day 0). Additional doses of rabies vaccine are given on days 3, 7, and 14 after the first vaccination. Current vaccines are relatively painless and are given in your arm, like a flu or tetanus shot.
What is the definition of exposure? There are 2 types of exposure:
- Bite (higher risk): Any penetration of skin by an animal’s teeth. Bites to the face and hands or multiple bites carry the highest risk.
- Non-bite (lower risk): Scratches received from an animal, or the contamination of open cuts, wounds, or mucous membranes with an animal's saliva.
Possible Exposure to a Rabid Bat:
Bats have very small teeth, and often a bat bite may not be felt. Therefore, PEP may be recommended in cases where a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, child, or mentally disabled or intoxicated person.
PEP costs hundreds of dollars per person. Therefore, when an exposure does occur, it's extremely important to keep the animal and submit it to Vector Control for rabies observation and/or testing. If the animal tests negative for rabies, then PEP may not be necessary.
For more information about PEP treatment, call (231) 724-4532.
Other Useful Information
Animal Bite Investigation
Rabies & Bats