Rabies is a word that probably reminds everybody of an enraged dog! Getting bitten by an animal such as a dog could be a very scary situation for young kids and their parents. In case of such bites, a doctor needs to be consulted immediately, as the treatment has to be started within 24 hours or before the onset of symptoms.

99% of rabies cases are due to dog bites. However, it can be transmitted through any rabid animal (such as monkeys, racoons, foxes, bats, etc). It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system, particularly the brain. 

The characteristic symptoms of rabies are hydrophobia (fear of water), photophobia (fear of light), paralysis (partial or full), increased salivation, and hallucinations. Rabies disease is preventable with vaccination at the right time, otherwise, it is 100% fatal.

 Categories of Bites

1. Category I

  • Type of contact: 

    • Touching or feeding animals. 

    • Licks on intact skin.

  • Type of exposure: None

  • Recommended post-exposure prophylaxis: 

    • None, if reliable case history is available.

    • Wash the exposed area with water and soap. 

    • Apply an antiseptic cream/ointment.

2. Category II

  • Type of contact: 

    • Nibbling on uncovered skin. 

    • Minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding.

  • Type of exposure: Minor

  • Recommended post-exposure prophylaxis: 

    • Wound management.

    • Anti-rabies vaccine.

 3. Category III

  • Type of contact: 

    • Single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches.

    • Licks on broken skin. 

    • Contamination of mucous membrane with saliva (i.e. licks).

  • Type of exposure: Severe

  • Recommended post-exposure prophylaxis: 

    • Wound management.

    • Rabies immunoglobulin.

    • Anti-rabies vaccine.


  • Keep a watch on the animal for 10 days if possible.

  • Clean the wound and keep it clean.

  • If needed, go for Rabies Immunoglobulin.

  • Avail anti-rabies vaccines (as per protocol).

Take-Home Message

Although there is no effective treatment once the symptoms appear, vaccination has been proven to be successful in preventing the viral disease, of rabies. Individuals at high risk of rabies infections, such as veterinarians, should consider pre-exposure vaccination. 

Whenever you are in doubt regarding the rabid status of the animal, it should be treated as a potentially infected animal and you should seek immediate medical help depending on the type of bite and previous vaccination history.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.