Categories of Animal Exposure

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. NonBite: 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 nonbite exposures to result in rabies. Clinicians are urged to consult with public health officials before initiating post-exposure prophylaxis for nonbite exposures.   

BATS warrant special consideration
when deciding whether a NonBite exposure has occurred.   

Select if your situation involves a
 NonBite exposure to a BAT

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

YES

NO

Last Revised: January 21, 2015