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Got scratch on face by dog. Should I take a rabies vaccine?

Sep 2012
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Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 1416 Questions
hi i was scratched by my friends's dog on my face, but i didn't notice the wound at that time, so i'm not sure if there has blood. The wound now can be seen by eyes. The dog is 10 months old and had a rabies shot within one year, but a few days ago, he had a fight with a opossum.I don't know if the rabies can be transmitted from the opossum to this dog. And i don't know if i need to take a rabies vaccine.
Posted Wed, 21 Nov 2012 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Das Arindam 3 hours later
Firstly, transmission of rabies by opossum is very rare. But experimental studies have shown that transmission may occur in some cases. So, it can not be said with guarantee that there was no transmission of this disease in your case.
But apart from the opossum, due to the scratching by the dog, you have to go for post-exposure prophylaxis. Prevention is the only way in rabies.
As you have told that the dog has a rabies shot within one year, you can observe for ten days. You can discontinue the prophylaxis if the dog remain healthy after 10 days, has a natural death, absence of rabies antigen proved by any laboratory.
You have to do the followings
1. Wash the area very well with antiseptic, soap and water.
2. You have to be examined thoroughly by a general physician for the nature of the wound. According to WHO there is three types of wound :
Category I – Touching or feeding animals, licks on the skin
Category II - Nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding, licks on broken skin
Category III – Single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, contamination of mucous membrane with saliva from licks.
After the examination, the wound have to be categorized to any one of those. In my opinion it should be Category II or III depending upon the wound condition.
3. For category II immediate vaccination is required. For category III immediate vaccination and immunoglobulin should be given.
Depending on the vaccine type post exposure prophylaxis consist of 0.5 to 1ml of intramuscular doses given in four to five doses over four weeks. Consult with the physician for proper vaccines and dosing.

Summary- There is evidence that opossum can transmit rabies. You have to take rabies vaccine. Consult with a general physician for categorization of the wound and choosing appropriate dose and schedule of vaccination.

Hope this information suffices. Let me know if you have any more question.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Got scratch on face by dog. Should I take a rabies vaccine? 1 hour later
The wound is not very XXXXXXX The dog was sent for adoption by my friend, so i don't know the situation of him. The dog scractch me accidentally, and has no symptom of rabies. Should i still go to have the vaccination?
Answered by Dr. Das Arindam 18 minutes later
Thank you for writing back.
You are not sure if there was any blood. You do not know the situation of him.
Why will you take a chance?
Because if you take the vaccine the chance of getting infected is minimal.
But once you have the infection nothing can give you relief. It is a fatal condition
So, you should go to have the vaccination.

If you have your answers close this discussion.
Rating and review given by you will be appreciated.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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