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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: Other infections

Question: Rabies From Saliva?

 ConfusedinCali - Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:30 pm

Hi there,

Can someone get rabies from the saliva of an infected animal? Not a bite from one, just the saliva.

Last night a raccoon was eating an apple. I scared the raccoon away, then picked up the apple and tossed it aside. Only as a second thought did I wipe my hands off, but they were still a little wet.

I then proceeded to eat a sandwich, I think it is likely that whatever was on my hands (like the saliva) made it on the sandwich and then into my mouth and stomach.

I have no idea if the raccoon was infected or not.

Stupid move I know, but should I be worried about this?

Thanx for the help,

 Theresa Jones, RN - Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:25 am

User avatar Hi ConfusedinCali,
The transmission of rabies typically occurs from the bite and saliva of an infected animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Non-bite exposures to rabies are very rare. Scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes contaminated with saliva or other potentially infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal constitute non-bite exposures. Occasionally reports of non-bite exposure are such that postexposure prophylaxis is given.
Inhalation of aerosolized rabies virus is also a potential non-bite route of exposure, but other than laboratory workers, most people are unlikely to encounter an aerosol of rabies virus.Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces (e.g., guano) of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure and is not an indication for prophylaxis"[1].
Since you really do not know whether the animal was infected, signs and symptoms of an infection may include malaise, fever, and neurological symptoms since the virus targets the central nervous system. I would encourage you to notifiy your primary care provider and inform him or her of the incident. Best wishes!
Theresa Jones, RN

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: Accessed October 25, 2009.

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