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INCUBATION period of RABIES in humans from cats.

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Dear Dr. Prasad Eswaran

Hello, I have written to you recently about a rabies scare I had. My issue is that now I am worried that I may have caught it from any cat I have encountered in the past (due to the long incubation period it can have in humans). I have interacted with many feral cats growing up, none which have exhibited any sort of symptom or unusual behaviour, however I keep getting concerned if they could have been carrying the virus beforehand. It is more about the what ifs and maybes. Whilst I may seem like someone who is worrying compulsively, it is only a minor, albeit nagging concern but I am running a normal day to day life. What would help me is your reassurance, and a little clarification about whether long incubations are indeed as rare as noted.

Thank you for your time and regards,


Category: Hematologist

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Category: Hematologist
Dr. Prasad Eswaran is online now

Expert:  Dr. Prasad Eswaran replied 4 Days.

Thank you for your query at DoctorSpring.com
I understand your concern.
Normally rabies is highly transmissible and the affected animals ( dogs/ cats ) exhibit symptoms straight away. There is another form of rabies the silent type, where the animal is unusually isolated and silent and does not really come up and socialize with other animals. Since you had a history of petting these animals, I understand you are concerned whether these animals did have the virus at the time of your exposure and whether they were in the incubation period at that point of time. Well hypothetically yes it is possible and there is no way to find out whether the animal had the virus at that point of time or not. But I can assure you, if you did harbor the virus at that point of time, by now you would have manifested the symptoms, reason being the symptoms are seen within 3 months is 95 % of the cases.
Now you are worried about the fact that in some cases the incubation period is extremely long, and a few cases have shown symptoms after 10 years. But these are very rare cases, and only a handful have shown such late manifestations. And even in their cases they would have definitely been bitten by the rabid dog, or scratched leading to exposure to the mucosa. Since there is no biting history or scratching history, I will not be worried at all about the possibility of getting rabies from your exposure.
Unfortunately there is no test to find out whether you have the virus, and it can only be done on autopsy. It is more of a clinical diagnosis based on the symptoms.
Lastly from my clinical experience I assure you, you have nothing to worry about.
Feel free to ask further queries,

Dr. Prasad Eswaran
Category: Hematologist
Doctorate in Medicine (Fellowship in Oncology), DM,  Madras Medical College & Govt. General Hospital, Chennai, India.

Doctor of Medicine (Residency in Radiation Oncology) , MD, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamilnadu, India, 2004-06.

Diploma in Medical Radiology & Therapy (Residency in Radiation Oncology), D.M.R.T, Madras Medical College & Govt. General Hospital, Chennai, India, 2004-06.

Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery - M.B.B.S, Govt. Stanley Medical College & Hospital, Chennai, India, 1998-2004.
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