What You Need To Know About The Rabies Vaccine For Humans

If you have a dog or cat, chances are good that you bring them to the vet each year for a rabies vaccine. Rabies is a disease that is almost 100 percent deadly in mammals, and it's the law in every state that pets be immunized against this fatal condition. There are certain times when humans need to receive a rabies vaccine, too. Here are some of the reasons why you or one of your family members might need to get this shot.

You May Have Been Exposed to Rabies

Because rabies is almost certainly deadly, if you have been bitten or scratched by a wild mammal, it's imperative that you get the series of rabies vaccines. The risks of the vaccine include a high fever, weakness, muscle pain and headache, but the risk of rabies (namely certain death) is much worse. Animals likely to carry rabies in the United States include bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Feral cats can rarely carry rabies, as can stray dogs and other mammals. See a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately if you have been bitten or scratched by any of these animals.

You Are Traveling to Certain Countries

In some areas of the world, rabies is more of a problem than it is in the United States. If you are traveling to a rural area of some parts of Asia or South America, your doctor might suggest that you have the rabies vaccine as a prophylactic measure. These areas include parts of India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Peru and Ecuador. Talk to your doctor or go to your local health department to talk to a medical professional about whether you need this vaccine before traveling.

You Work With Wild Animals

Some professionals should have rabies vaccines on a regular basis. You are at risk of being exposed to rabies if you work in a wild animal rescue facility or if you are otherwise often exposed to wild animals. Because there are some risks to having the vaccine unnecessarily, this is something to discuss with your doctor, as well as with your employer.

Even if you have prophylactic rabies vaccines, you might need to have a follow-up shot if you are exposed to rabies. This is to boost the already-high effectiveness of the vaccine. In case of any contact with a wild animal's blood or saliva, it's very important that you report to a doctor promptly so your risk of developing rabies can be evaluated. Contact a business, such as The Pediatric Center, for more information.