Types of exposure to rabies

There are two types of exposure to the rabies virus:

  • Bite. An animal bite occurs any time your skin has been penetrated by the teeth of an animal. The location of the bite does not change the need for treatment.
  • Nonbite. Nonbite exposures (which occur when an open cut in the skin or mucous membrane is exposed to the rabies virus) rarely lead to rabies but will need treatment.

Having contact with blood, urine, or droppings (feces) from a rabid animal does not transmit the rabies virus, so no treatment is needed. However, you should always avoid touching or handling wild mammals, especially bats, because of the small chance of a nonbite exposure to the rabies virus. If a bat is found in a room with a sleeping or unconscious person, contact a health professional immediately even if there is no sign of a bite. Children should also be taught to avoid bats and other wild animals whenever possible.

Last Updated: September 9, 2008

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