Health protection – collection

Rabies: risk assessment, post-exposure treatment, management

Guidance on assessing risk following rabies exposure, post-exposure treatment, and public health management of a suspected rabies case in the UK.

Rabies is an encephalitis caused by rabies virus, a member of the rhabdovirus family. It is an acute viral infection that is almost invariably fatal once symptoms develop.

Transmission is generally through the bite of an infected animal, usually dogs, but also cats, bats and other wildlife. A course of rabies vaccination can prevent infection and death.

It is important that a medical practitioner assesses all animal bites, especially:

  • bat bites in the UK
  • any other animal bites overseas

Diagnosis of rabies in the early stages is often difficult as symptoms may be non-specific.

Clinical rabies is a notifiable disease in England.

For pre-exposure vaccination advice, see Immunisation against infectious disease: the green book, chapter 27 on rabies.

Rabies notifications

  1. Rabies in France, update December 2015

    • News story
  2. Rabies in northern Greece

    • News story

Human rabies: managing a suspected or confirmed case

  1. Human rabies: public health management of a suspected case

    • Guidance