The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host. Though transmission has been rarely documented via other routes such as contamination of mucous membranes (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth), aerosol transmission, and corneal and organ transplantations.
The virus doesn’t live very well outside of bodily fluids. Generally speaking, you need fluid-to-fluid contact.
As for how long, it depends. You have until the virus hits your brain - the higher up your body you’re bitten, the less time you have, since it travels through your nerve cells toward your brain.
Very low likelihood of acquiring rabies from such an incident, but such exposures are an indication for rabies postexposure prophylaxis.
Not in danger. Contact with blood is not an indication for PEP.
Contact with mucous or excreta is not an indication for PEP. Contact with saliva or neural tissue is an indication if you can’t rule out the presence of a skin break.
Not in danger. Contact with hide or fur is not an indication for PEP.
General advice is to seek PEP as soon as possible if an exposure to the virus has occured, but PEP can usually be delayed up to 10 days with no problem. The prevention window depends on the exposure site and the amount of virus introduced into the body.
In all likelihood the man in this story will be fine without PEP, unless he was bitten.
I have heard of an instance where the incubation period in a human was up to one year (time between exposure and development of symptoms).
Factors influencing this include area of bite/exposure (the closer to the brain, the more rapidly serious symptoms will develop) and amount of inoculum. The famous case of the boy who was saved by Pasteur’s pioneering rabies vaccine in 1885 was noteworthy in part because the boy was bitten repeatedly, and had injuries to his face.
It’s a slow-moving virus, but you don’t want to dally around after being exposed to it.
There was a case publicized over here of a local man who died of rabies. The only way he could think of that he possibly contracted it was a short time before when he was riding pilliar on a motorcycle, a dog came running out chasing the bike, and he kicked the dog with his flipflop-clad foot.
Make no mistake: Rabies is nothing to fool around with.
There has been one case reported with a 6 or 7 year incubation period. I think that is the longest that has been documented.
There was one case documented in the 50’s involving a caver who developed rabies after spending time in a cave with a high concentration of bats, which suggests the possibility of exposure through inhaled aerosols. However, there is reason to believe he may have been bitten and didn’t know it because one of his caving partners said there was blood on his face when he exited the cave. So how he acquired rabies isn’t clear cut.
Years ago, while living in Waco, I found a very sick kitten on my doorstep. This was on a Friday evening, and the Humane Society was closed until Monday, so I took care of it over the weekend.
On Monday, when I took it to the shelter, it when into convulsions and died literally as I handed it to the worker there. :eek:
My wife, my 3-year-old son, our friend and I all had to get rabies shots. Granted, the odds of us contracting it were very low indeed… but the downside was just too huge to take the chance- once you start showing symptoms, it’s pretty much too late for you.
The way they explained it, the person didn’t have symptoms, and no known recent rabid exposure when he (it was a guy) got the disease and died. When they did an autopsy, got samples, and genotyped the rabies virus, it was a strain found in a completely different part of the world. The guy had moved from Southeast Asia to the States in those years, and the strain was from Southeast Asia and had never been found in the US.