Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can affect the brain and nervous system. You can get rabies when you are exposed to an animal that has rabies. This can happen through a bite, scratch, or other contact.
Your doctor can use two medicines to help your body fight the virus before it causes an infection. One is rabies immunoglobulin. It works by giving your body a type of protein called an antibody to stop the rabies virus. The other medicine is the rabies vaccine. It helps your body produce its own protection against the rabies virus. When you get these shots before serious symptoms appear, you should not get infected with rabies.
Your doctor will give you a shot schedule. Make sure that you do not miss any doses. You need to get all the doses for the rabies vaccine to work.
If you are exposed and have not been vaccinated against rabies, you should get 4 doses of rabies vaccine.
If you're exposed and have been vaccinated before, you should get 2 doses of rabies vaccine.
You might also get a shot to prevent rabies if you handle animals often. Or you may get one if you plan to travel to places where rabies is a risk.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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