Testing & Diagnosis for Rabies in Children

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Contact the Division of Infectious Diseases

How does a doctor know that it's rabies?

A number of tests are needed to confirm or rule out rabies. Tests are performed on samples of serum, saliva, spinal fluid, and skin biopsies taken from the back of the neck. If the animal that bit your child is available for testing, that is a much easier process. One test can confirm whether rabies is present or not. If the animal isn't infected, there's no need to treat your child.

In addition, it's essential that your provide your doctor with as much of the following information as possible:

  • location of the incident
  • type of animal involved (domestic pet or wild animal)
  • part of the body involved
  • type of exposure (cut, scratch, licking of open wound)
  • number of exposures
  • whether or not the animal has been immunized against rabies
  • whether or not the animal is sick and what symptoms were present
  • whether or not the animal is available for testing or quarantine
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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