5.1.3.2. What exactly is an exposure to rabies?

An exposure to rabies occurs when the virus-infected saliva or other potentially infectious material (e.g. neural tissue), is introduced into fresh, open cuts in skin or onto mucous membranes. This almost always occurs through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Click here for more information on how to prevent or deal with an exposure.

Indirect contact (petting or handling an animal, contact with blood, urine or feces, and contact of saliva with intact skin) are not exposures.

No case of human rabies resulting from consumption of raw meat or milk from a rabid animal has been documented. Consumption of meat or milk from a rabid animal is strongly discouraged and should be avoided, but is not considered an exposure.

Rabies cases resulting from virus entering breaks in the skin whilst butchering rabies-infected animals have been documented and this constitutes an exposure.




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Version 4 - last updated May 2017