Frequently Asked Questions

Has anyone in the US died from rabies in the last decade?

Yes. The CDC reports that 5 human deaths were attributed to rabies in the U.S. in 2021. From 2009 to 2018, there were 23 deaths due to human rabies.1,2

Is rabies found throughout the U.S.?

Yes. Cases of rabies have been documented in every state except Hawaii.3 Find out about rabies in your area.

Are dogs responsible for the transmission of rabies?

Globally, dogs account for most human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. However, thanks to successful pet vaccination programs and other measures, rabies among dogs in the US has been almost eradicated. The bigger threat of rabies exposure in the U.S. comes from wildlife: bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons.4,5

What are the signs and symptoms of rabies in animals?

At the onset, an animal may exhibit behavioral changes-appearing anxious, aggressive, or more friendly than normal. As rabies progresses, the animal may develop hypersensitivity to light and sound, experience seizures, and/or become vicious. In the final stages, as the disease paralyzes the nerves that control the head and throat, the animal will hypersalivate and lose the ability to swallow. Eventually, the animal experiences respiratory failure and dies. Read about the warning signs of animals that may have rabies.3

Is standard wound care and a vaccine enough to prevent rabies?

Although standard care is important and vaccines are critical, evidence suggests that alone they may not be enough. For previously unvaccinated persons, the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend a human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) be administered at the same time as the rabies vaccine. The most common causes of postexposure prophylaxis failures include when rabies immune globulin (RIG) is not used or is administered incorrectly.4,6,7

How prevalent is human-to-human transmission of rabies?

Humans are an end host for rabies. Other than through transplantation, there are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus. This includes transmission from patients to healthcare workers.8 Find out how the rabies virus is spread.

Do rabies vaccines provide immediate protection?

Although vaccines can protect for years, they may take weeks to build efficacy. An HRIG like HyperRAB provides critical protection immediately, allowing the vaccine time to establish active immunity.7,9

Can postexposure prophylaxis measures be stopped once they have begun?

If appropriate diagnostic tests indicate the animal that caused the exposure was not rabid, any initiated postexposure prophylaxis measures may be discontinued.7

Can I get rabies from a bat?

Yes. Bats pose a significant risk. They are one of the most common carriers of rabies in the US. In fact, 70% of human rabies infections in the US are caused by bats.3,7,10 Read more about bats posing a greater risk for rabies.

Which animals carry rabies?

Although any mammal can be infected with the rabies virus, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats are the top rabies carriers in the U.S.3,11

What do I do if I suspect a rabies exposure?

Here are the 5 steps7,11

  1. Capture the animal if you are able to do so safely and call your local animal control authority
  2. Wash the wound with soap and lots of water
  3. Have the wound treated and protect against tetanus
  4. Call your doctor about postexposure prophylaxis (medicine to protect against rabies infection)
  5. Call your health department

What is HRIG?

HRIG stands for Human Rabies Immune Globulin. It’s a medication that provides immediate immune protection against rabies for people who have not previously been vaccinated. Although vaccines can protect for years, they may take weeks to become effective. An HRIG like HyperRAB® (rabies immune globulin [human]) allows the vaccine time to establish active immunity.7,9

Can I catch rabies from touching a dead animal?

The rabies virus can survive a few hours outside the body and a bit longer inside a dead animal’s carcass. However, people generally get rabies from the bite of a (live) rabid animal or when the saliva or brain tissue of a rabid animal contacts a fresh, open wound, or when it touches a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Just touching an animal (dead or alive), or coming in contact with the blood, urine, or feces of the animal does not transmit the disease. Rabies virus also becomes noninfectious when it dries out.7,12,13 Find out how the rabies virus is spread. 

Important Safety Information for HyperRAB® (rabies immune globulin [human])

Indication and Usage
HYPERRAB® (rabies immune globulin [human]) is indicated for postexposure prophylaxis, along with rabies vaccine, for all persons suspected of exposure to rabies.

Limitations of Use
Persons who have been previously immunized with rabies vaccine and have a confirmed adequate rabies antibody titer should receive only vaccine. For unvaccinated persons, the combination of HYPERRAB and vaccine is recommended for both bite and nonbite exposures regardless of the time interval between exposure and initiation of postexposure prophylaxis. Beyond 7 days (after the first vaccine dose), HYPERRAB is not indicated since an antibody response to vaccine is presumed to have occurred.

Important Safety Information

For infiltration and intramuscular use only.

Severe hypersensitivity reactions may occur with HYPERRAB. Patients with a history of prior systemic allergic reactions to human immunoglobulin preparations are at a greater risk of developing severe hypersensitivity and anaphylactic reactions. Have epinephrine available for treatment of acute allergic symptoms, should they occur.

HYPERRAB is made from human blood and may carry a risk of transmitting infectious agents, eg, viruses, the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) agent, and, theoretically, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) agent.

The most common adverse reactions in >5% of subjects during clinical trials were injection-site pain, headache, injection-site nodule, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, nasal congestion, and oropharyngeal pain.

Do not administer repeated doses of HYPERRAB once vaccine treatment has been initiated as this could prevent the full expression of active immunity expected from the rabies vaccine.

Other antibodies in the HYPERRAB preparation may interfere with the response to live vaccines such as measles, mumps, polio, or rubella. Defer immunization with live vaccines for 4 months after HYPERRAB administration.

Please see full Prescribing Information for HYPERRAB.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Human rabies. Updated September 22, 2021. Accessed April 1, 2022.
  2. Gross J. U.S. records 5 rabies deaths in 2021, highest number in a decade. The New York Times. Published January 7, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022.
  3. American Humane. Rabies facts & prevention tips. Updated August 25, 2016. Accessed March 13, 2022.
  4. World Health Organization (WHO). Rabies. WHO website. Accessed March 12, 2022. 
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rabies. Updated September 23, 2021. Accessed March 31, 2022.
  6. Wilde H. Failure of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. Vaccine. 2007;25(44):7605-7609.
  7. Manning SE, Rupprecht CE, Fishbein D, et al. Human rabies prevention—United States, 2008: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2008;57(RR-3):1-28.
  8. Crowcroft NS, Thampi N. The prevention and management of rabies. BMJ. 2015;350:g7827.
  9. Rupprecht CE, Briggs D, Brown CM, et al; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Use of a reduced (4-dose) vaccine schedule for postexposure prophylaxis to prevent human rabies: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010;59(RR-2):1-9.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC reports increase in human rabies cases linked to bats in the U.S. Accessed January 24, 2022. media/releases/2022/p0106-human-rabies.html.
  11. American Veterinary Medical Association. Rabies and your pet. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  12. Hudson Valley Community College. Animal Carcass Handling Safety Procedures.
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). How is rabies transmitted? Updated June 11, 2019. Accessed March 21, 2022.