August 29th, 2011
07:59 AM ET

Rabies shots needed for bat exposure?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Dan from South Carolina:

During a recent family trip to the mountains, our kids, who were sleeping in the attic, were awakened by a bat flying around the room. We called our doctor, who told us to go to the emergency room, where the kids got the rabies vaccine and immune globulin. Was that really necessary?

Expert answer:

Thanks for your question. In hindsight (such as following a negative rabies test on the animal in question) it often does seem that rabies prevention shots are unnecessary.

However, doing the injections as a precaution is a very reasonable recommendation. That's because rabies infection is almost always fatal without the treatment.

Fortunately, most animals are not infected with rabies, so transmission to humans is rare, affecting just a handful of people every year. Bats are one of the most common animals that transmit rabies in the United States, along with raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes.

The rabies virus can be found in all parts of the country except for Hawaii.

If there is concern about an exposure to rabies, prophylaxis consisting of rabies immune globulin (an injection that contains human antibodies against the rabies virus) and rabies vaccine (four injections over the course of two weeks) is recommended.

This treatment should be started as soon as possible after the exposure, ideally within 24 hours.

Bat bites reportedly feel like sharp jabs and may leave tiny marks that look like scratches. Most adults who were awake during the time of a bat bite will know they have been bitten.

However, if a person is uncertain whether a bite or scratch from a bat occurred (such as if a bat was found in the room of a sleeping person, a child, a person with mental disabilities or someone who is impaired by the influence of alcohol or drugs - basically anyone who is unable to give an accurate report about a bite), the rabies prophylaxis regimen is recommended.

Follow @CNNHealth and @LivingWellDoc on Twitter.

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Soosteemocush

    best price usa tadalafil https://tadalafilol.com/ – where to buy cialis without prescription where to order tadalafil tablets tadalafil order online no prescription https://tadagatadalafil.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. combigan

    brimonidine eye drops combigan eye drops generic

    May 26, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cost tadalafil generic

    intimate medicine where to buy tadalafil on line tadadafil

    June 5, 2021 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. cheap cialis

    tadalafil dosage bodybuilding cialis online tadalafil troche

    June 5, 2021 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. tadalafil warnings

    tadalafil blood pressure tadalafil alcohol tadalafil cvs

    June 5, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. chloroquine diphosphate

    hydroxychloroquine usmle hydroxychloroquine sulfate corona hydrochloraquine

    June 6, 2021 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. pharmaceptica

    sildenafil cost compare https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. www.pharmaceptica.com

    sildenafil prescription canada https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.