Rabies exposure risk??

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Hi there, I have an odd question that I am simply trying to get some reassurance on. I work at a veterinay clinic and today we haf a patient that was but by a stray dog of some type, owner didnt know of it was a dog or a coyote, just that it bit his dog once then the owner picked him up and the other "dog" left. Either way the dog with the bite ended ul i our clinic about an hour latter. The pet was up to date on his rabies vaccine (im not concerned about him) so i put on some gloves and examined the wound it went through the skin layer but not muscle wall. The doctor came to look at it thwn asked me to clean it up. So I shaved the area around it and scrubed it gently with some Novasan, theny doctor came in and decided he wanted to flush it with saline, he flushed it out with 3ml of saline 4 or 5 times but on the 6th time he was a little too shallow and the saline sprayed every where including hitting my face, i of course went wand washed off what i knew was there but my question is, is there any risk that of the animal (if it was rabid) that bit the dog an hour prior left any living rabies virus that after scrubbing and a few flushes with saline could inturn infect me???? I know it seems silly but im just looking for some reassurance, thank you.

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Your employer should tell you see a physician immediately to get tested.
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    • Posted

      My employer was with me in the room (he's the doctor) and he didnt even mention it after the fact, secondly there is no "rabies test" you either get treatment ($1,000's of dollars woth of injections that your insurance will more than likley not cover) or take the risk, so you can see my hesitation as to why im not just jumping in my car and heading to the emergancy room. The only reliant way to test for rabies is to send in several tissue biopsies from the brain to be tested (which cannon be done on a living person or animal)
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    • Posted

      The animal can be quarantined for a while to determine if it has rabies.

      Your employer carries liability insurance but it appears that he is more interested in himself than the good of his employees. You should look for another job.

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  • Posted

    I think you could have just asked about it and he would have explained to you.
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  • Posted

    I think your risk is exceptionally small given the previous flushing and short time since the bite (no time for the virus to multiply even if present). 

    However, you need to have a candid conversation with your boss about wht happens in the event of you coming to harm in the course of your work. He is legally liable for your safety and costs of treatment. Find out what the protocol is if you were to be hurt at work - he should have a clear pathway of exactly what to do in the event of his employees coming to harm at work. If he doesn't, consider a new employer, because veterinary work is not without risks and you need an employer who knows and will step up to their legal responsibilities to their staff. 

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    • Posted

      Just an additional thought here:

      Is there not a special protocol to use when treating an animal that may have been exposed to rabies? I would have throught that ensuring anyone treating the animal was given appropriate protective clothing including a face guard and gloves would be the minimum requirement. 

      I looked up what the CDC has to say about potential exposure to rabies: 

      "Should my staff and I be vaccinated?

      Preexposure vaccination should be offered to persons in high-risk groups, such as veterinarians, animal handlers, and certain laboratory workers. Pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for additional therapy after a rabies exposure, but it simplifies therapy by eliminating the need for RIG and decreasing the number of doses of vaccine needed."

      As I said earlier, I think your risk of infection is low, however your employer should have ensured that you have had an initial rabies vax and that you get additional shots if exposed. His lack of concern is a red flag when it comes to the long term safety of his staff.  You can look up what the CDC has to say - it's all online and gives advice on how long to keep the bitten animal under observation, etc. 

      All best wishes.

      :-)

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  • Posted

    Thank you all for your replies, I spoke with my employer / doctor whobwas with me and he said I shouldnt be worried about it. And as far as the vaccine is concerned yes it is avaliable for veterinary staff but you'll be hard pressed to find one who will actually pay for it or even suggest it. As far as Rabies protocol its all patient based, our only instructions are to wear gloves. We are not able to monitor the animal that bit the dog because he ran off, and the dog was vaccinated to Rabies so we cannot watch it either for symptoms. Ill call the patient tommarow and see if he remembers anything more about the animal that bit his dog (weather or not he seemed sick/ uncoordinated ect) and go from there.
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