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RIG is made from blood and contains antibodies to rabies. It provides fast protection but is not long lasting.
When RIG is given, a rabies vaccine series is started so that the body can make its own antibodies for long lasting protection.
You may be offered RIG if you have had an animal bite or if there is a risk you have been in contact with rabies disease.
You need one dose of RIG as soon as possible after a high risk animal bite. The size of the dose depends on the person’s body weight.
There have been no cases of rabies in Canada after RIG and rabies vaccine were given as recommended. In other countries, there have been cases when RIG and rabies vaccine doses were not given exactly as recommended.
RIG is one of the safest blood products available. Canadian Blood Services carefully screens donors and tests all blood collected. The blood of donors is not used if the donor has known risk factors or tests positive for an infectious disease. RIG is treated with heat and chemicals to kill germs that might be present. The risk of getting an infection from RIG is very small.
If you have been bitten by an animal or think you may have a risk of rabies, call Health Link at 811.
If RIG and rabies vaccine are needed, they will be given at a hospital, urgent care centre, or your local public health office. It is important to get all doses of rabies vaccine exactly as recommended.
Reactions to RIG are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
Hives and general swelling may occur.
It is important to stay for 15 minutes after RIG is given because people can have a rare but serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If anaphylaxis happens, you will be given medicine to treat the symptoms.
Unusual reactions can happen. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.
After a high risk animal bite, anyone can have RIG, but talk to your healthcare provider before having RIG if you:
You can have RIG if you have a mild illness (e.g., cold), even if you have a fever.
RIG can interfere with live vaccines. You need to wait at least 4 months after having RIG before you can have a live vaccine. If you had a live vaccine less than 14 days before having RIG, ask a public health nurse if the live vaccine needs to be repeated.
People who have close contact with animals and lab workers who handle the rabies virus are at higher risk for exposure to the virus.
The risk for travellers depends on the country, length of the trip, activities, and access to medical care.
Children are higher risk because they are more likely to approach animals and less likely to tell someone if they are bitten or scratched. They are more likely to have higher risk animal bites (e.g., more serious bites, bites on the face)
Current as of: July 16, 2019
Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.