Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Rabies: Did an Exposure Occur?

Return to Rabies prevention flowchart introduction

Did an actual exposure occur?

Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into bite wounds or open skin wounds or onto mucous membranes. Two general categories of exposure are recognized:

1. Bite: All bites that penetrate or abrade the epidermis, regardless of anatomic location, constitute an exposure.

2. Non-Bite: The contamination of open wounds, abrasions, mucous membranes, or scratches with saliva or other potentially infectious material (neural tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, salivary gland tissue) constitutes an exposure. Because the rabies virus is inactivated by desiccation and ultraviolet irradiation, in general, if the material containing the virus is dry, the virus can be considered non-infectious. It is rare for non-bite exposures to result in rabies. Clinicians are urged to consult with public health officials before initiating post-exposure prophylaxis for non-bite exposures.

BATS warrant special consideration when deciding whether
a Non-Bite exposure has occurred.

Select if your situation involves a Non-Bite exposure to a BAT

When you are ready to continue with the algorithm answer the exposure question by selecting "yes" or "no".



Last revised September 29, 2020