Prevention of rabies

Learn how rabies can be prevented.

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How to prevent rabies

You can reduce your risk of getting rabies by:

  • knowing the signs of rabies in animals
  • closely supervising children around animals
  • routinely vaccinating your pets and livestock (farm animals) against rabies
  • teaching children about animal behavior and reporting bites
  • avoiding contact with an animal you think might have rabies
  • avoiding touching or feeding unknown, stray or wild animals
  • reporting an animal that is acting strangely to your local health authority or animal control
  • thoroughly cleaning your wound right away if you think you have been exposed to a rabid animal

See your health care provider:

  • right away if you think you have been exposed to a rabid animal
  • about getting vaccinated if you are at increased risk of getting rabies through your work or recreational activities
  • about getting vaccinated if you will be travelling to a country where rabies is widespread and there is poor access to medical care

What to do if you are bitten, scratched or licked by an animal you think has rabies

Contact your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you have been exposed to rabies. You can reduce the risk of developing rabies by immediately:

  • removing any clothing that may have been contaminated with an infected animal's:
    • saliva
    • brain and nervous system tissue or fluids
  • thoroughly cleaning your wound by:
    • washing it with soap and water
      • flushing it with water for 15 minutes
      • applying rubbing alcohol or iodine

Do not cover the wound. Talk to your health care provider to find out your risk and treatment options.

You must get medical care from a health care provider before any symptoms appear.

Your health care provider will determine if you need post-exposure prophylactic (preventative) treatment based on:

  • the animal involved
  • the type of exposure
  • the nature of the event
  • whether rabies is circulating in the area where you were exposed

Prophylactic (preventative) treatment should be given as soon as possible after exposure. It could include vaccination and injection of immunoglobulins (antibodies) to help your immune system to fight the virus.

When talking to your health care provider, you should also report the location of the suspect rabid animal so the animal can be:

  • located, confined and monitored for rabies symptoms under quarantine
  • tested for rabies

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