Do I need to take a post-exposure vaccine for rabies?
Q: I am 22 years old facing some psychological distress when I think about an incident that happened three years back. A pet cat had bitten my right-hand finger (blood came out). We left the place after a few days, and could not observe the animal's behaviour for the next 10 days. At that time, I took Septic (TT) injections, but not for rabies. Now after going through a few sites and newspapers, I got to know that there is an incubation period that may be as long as 19 years, and once symptoms start showing, it could result in death within seven days. These thoughts are hindering my work. At present, I am doing jogging, pranayam and yoga and I do not have any symptoms. What should I do? Is there a post-exposure vaccine available? Is it necessary to take?
A:There is no need to be unduly worried about the incubation period of rabies. The incubation period is 3-4 weeks to a maximum of 4 months in 95% of cases. In very rare cases, it can be longer. Even when the animal is rabid, it is not necessary that the patient would certainly suffer since viruses may be washed away with blood, etc. In your case the cat was a pet, and hence most unlikely to be harbouring rabies infection. Normally, post-exposure vaccination is started immediately but it is never too late. If you are so disturbed, you can take Rabipur now, then after 3, 7, 14, 30 and 90 days.