Rabies (cont.)

5. Q: Will the rabies vaccine make me sick?

A: Adverse reactions to rabies vaccine and immune globulin are not common. Newer vaccines in use today cause fewer adverse reactions than previously available vaccines. Mild, local reactions to the rabies vaccine, such as pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site, have been reported. Rarely, symptoms such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness have been reported. Local pain and low-grade fever may follow injection of rabies immune globulin.

6. Q: What if I cannot get rabies vaccine on the day I am supposed to get my next dose?

A: Consult with your doctor or state or local public health officials for recommended times if there is going to be a change in the recommended schedule of shots. Rabies prevention is a serious matter and changes should not be made in the schedule of doses.

7. Q: Can rabies be transmitted from one person to another?

A: The only well-documented documented cases of rabies caused by human-to-human transmission occurred among 8 recipients of transplanted corneas, and recently among three recipients of solid organs (see MMWR article). Guidelines for acceptance of suitable cornea and organ donations, as well as the rarity of human rabies in the United States, reduce this risk. In addition to transmission from cornea and organ transplants, bite and non-bite exposures inflicted by infected humans could theoretically transmit rabies, but no such cases have been documented. Casual contact, such as touching a person with rabies or contact with non-infectious fluid or tissue (urine, blood, feces) does not constitute an exposure and does not require postexposure prophylaxis. In addition, contact with someone who is receiving rabies vaccination does not constitute rabies exposure and does not require postexposure prophylaxis.

For more information on person-to-person transmission of rabies, see: Fekadu, M., Endeshaw, T., Alemu, W., Bogale, Y., Teshager, T., & Olson, J. G. (1996). Possible human-to-human transmission of rabies in Ethiopia. Ethiopia Medical Journal, 34, 123-127.