Rabies infection in humans in the U.S. is fairly rare, due in part because of the active animal control and vaccination programs that battle against the disease in dogs and cats. But the incidence of human rabies in North America is now on the rise. And it would become much worse following a catastrophic disaster that causes a halt to the vaccination program and leaves animals roaming freely and interacting with infected wildlife. It is a scenario in which rabies could become a very real threat to the health of the human populace.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to the rabies virus, here's what to do:
- Thoroughly wash the area of the wound for at least 5 minutes, using soap and water. This will help reduce the number of viral particles near the open wound.
- Apply a virucidal antiseptic such as providone-iodine, iodine tincture, aquaeous iodine solution or alcohol to the wound after washing with soap and water.
- Get to a doctor as quickly as possible and arrange for treatment with 1 dose of human rabies immunoglobulin and 4 doses of rabies vaccine each day for the next 14 days.