Rabies | Diagnosis & Treatments

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

Can rabies be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for rabies once symptoms of the disease occur. However, there is an effective vaccine given immediately after your child has been bitten or scratched that stops the disease from developing. It may also protect high-risk people (such as veterinarians and animal handlers) before an exposure occurs.