What to do if bitten by a cat or dog

chinacdc.cn | Updated: 2023-10-24
What is rabies?

Rabies is a zoonotic disease caused by the rabies virus, which affects both humans and animals. Symptoms such as hydrophobia, photophobia, and aerophobia may occur after infection. There is no effective treatment for rabies, and the case fatality rate is almost 100%. However, proper precaution can prevent the occurrence of the disease by 100%. Therefore, rabies prevention is crucial.
What should you do after being bitten or scratched by a cat or dog?
If there is a hospital nearby, seek medical attention immediately.
If you are far away from the hospital, rinse the wound alternately with clean water and soapy water.
Even if you have treated the wound yourself, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Even household pets can transmit the virus through bites or scratches, so never ignore the risks.
Anyone can get vaccinated, even after exposure to the virus. Those in pregnancy or breastfeeding can also get vaccinated.
When should you get the rabies vaccine?
Immediate rabies vaccination is required for injuries caused by rabid, suspected rabid, or animals whose rabies status cannot be determined, such as scratches, bites, licking of the mucous membrane or damaged skin, or direct contact of open wounds or the mucous membrane with saliva or tissue that may contain the rabies virus. In some cases, passive immunization with rabies immune globulin may also be administered as per medical advice.
Direct contact with bats is considered high-risk exposure and requires rabies vaccination, along with the administration of rabies immune globulin.
Individuals at high risk of rabies exposure, including veterinarians, personnel involved in rabies research, healthcare workers in contact with rabies patients, staff at animal shelters, and researchers working with wildlife, should receive pre-exposure immunization. Individuals planning to travel to countries and regions with high rabies prevalence should also undergo pre-exposure immunization.
What are the main sources of rabies infection?
1.Dogs are the main source of rabies in China, accounting for over 95% of the cases, followed by cats.
2.Wild or stray carnivorous mammals pose a high risk of transmission, with foxes, ferrets, badgers, raccoons, and wolves being prominent sources of wildlife infection in China.
3.Bats are high-risk animals for transmitting rabies.
4.Cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, and other livestock, as well as rabbits, rats, and other rodents, have a low risk of causing rabies through bites.
5.Poultry, fish, insects, lizards, turtles, and snakes are not susceptible to rabies virus infection and transmission.