Can we get rabies by consuming milk from an infected cow?
Q: We took milk from a local farmer and consumed it after boiling it. Suddenly we heard that the cow has been infected by rabies and died soon after. We are now very worried and could not get vaccinated due to acute shortage of anti-rabies in the local market. Is it necessary to vaccinate in this case?
A:Human cases due to non-bite exposures to rabies are very rare. Scratches, abrasions, open wounds, and mucous membranes contaminated with saliva or other potentially infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal constitute non-bite exposures. Inhalation of aerosolised rabies virus is also a potential non-bite route of exposure, but other than laboratory workers, most people are unlikely to encounter aerosolised rabies virus. There are no published studies that have demonstrated the presence of rabies virus in cow's milk. Although transmission of rabies virus from consuming unpasteurised milk from an infected animal is theoretically possible, no human has ever been reported to develop rabies via this route. Milk that has been pasteurised/boiled presents no risk for rabies virus transmission.