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Is there any possibility of getting rabies without any breakage of skin?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1978
Answered : 6714 Questions
Hi my 23 year old son is currently in South XXXXXXX About 10 days ago he was swimming in the sea on Ihla Grande off the coast of Rio and was pawed by a dog (he thinks through his swim shorts). It bruised him but didn't break the skin although it was close to the site of an insect bite. He is worried about the rabies risk. He saw a doctor in Brazil who said it was probably nothing to worry about and has now moved into Argentina where he saw a 2nd doctor who said its probably ok but said he could give him a prescription for a vaccine if he wanted but I would like another opinion if that's ok
Posted Wed, 18 Dec 2013 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 1 hour later
Brief answer...given below. Detailed answer... Hello, Thanks for the query. I have seen the photograph and find no breakage of skin,however micro breakage of skin can not be ruled out with 100% certainty. Since the rabies virus lives in the saliva of a rabid animal,a bite is the most common way of transmitting rabies.However a scratch can also cause the rabies. In my opinion,although the chances and risk of rabies are negligible,it can't be ruled out completely.It would be good if you get the vaccine and have peace of mind. If I were in your position,I won't take any chances ,as it is my life and would definitely go for vaccine. I hope it helps,however you may revert to me for any further query. Best of luck Thanks
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Is there any possibility of getting rabies without any breakage of skin? 1 hour later
Thank you for your reply. Can I also just ask how likely given that the dog and my son were both in water, is it that if the dog had licked it's paw before entering the water, any rabies virus that may be on the paw would survive in the water.
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 5 minutes later
Hello, The rabies virus doesn't live outside the body. If you say that bite or scratch took place inside the water,then it is least likely to cause the rabies. The best way to take care of uncertainty is to get the vaccine and live in peace. Thanks
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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