Almost half of rabies cases in the country involve companion animals, according to the Department of Health. An online initiative titled Review of Animal Bite Management organized by Zuellig Pharma Corporation’s ZP Therapeutics hoped to address the issue by providing information to participants. Dr. Vinzon Valencia, FPSGS, FPCS, a general and laparoscopic surgeon, led the virtual conference.

How does one get rabies?

To prevent rabies, one should know how it is transmitted. Anyone can be exposed to rabies in three ways.

Category I exposure involves minor exposure, including touching an animal with rabies, sharing spoons and forks with a person who has it, or any casual type of contact. Exposure is classified as Category II if an animal with rabies nibbles or scratches your skin, whether or not there is bruising or bleeding.

Lastly, exposure is classified under Category III if an infected animal or person’s bite or scratch punctures the skin, an animal licks an open wound, an infected carcass is handled without proper protection or even consumed as food, or if any type of exposure involves the head and neck. Additionally, bat exposure is automatically considered Category III exposure.

What should one do when exposed to rabies?

First, one should wash the wound or scratched area thoroughly with soap and running water. The washing should last 15 minutes at the very least. Avoid putting any kind of bandage on the area to prevent bacterial infection.

Don’t try to take medication on your own without the supervision of health professionals – any delay in proper management can be detrimental.

Exposure classified as Categories II or III necessitates proper consultation so that post-exposure prophylaxis can be given. This is time-sensitive and should be given in the first 24 hours. Rabies Immunoglobulin and/or a rabies vaccine will be given depending on the circumstances.

Because rabies prophylaxis requires several shots, there is a need to come back for the other doses. The schedule to be followed will be based on the World Health Organization’s most recent recommendations. One who does not complete all shots does not get the protection they need from getting infected.

Is it okay for anyone to get rabies Immunoglobulin?

The immunoglobulin has no absolute contraindications. Even women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can get it.

Can someone who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 get rabies Immunoglobulin?

In case you have just been vaccinated against COVID-19, you can still get the Immunoglobulin.

Should vaccination be done only after exposure?

Always remember that once the symptoms of rabies appear, it can no longer be cured, and death becomes inevitable. However, rabies can still be prevented before the onset of manifestations.

Post-exposure prophylaxis saves lives. However, you don’t have to wait to be bitten or scratched by an infected animal for you to get vaccinated! If you do have animal companions, you can get shots for both you and your beloved animals. (It can also be less expensive, since there is no need to get pricey rabies Immunoglobulin if the shots are given before any exposure.)