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What are the chances of getting RABIES due to rat scratch?

Resolved Question:

Hi there.
I was scratched by a rat recently whilst traveling though Vietnam. (2 weeks ago). It didn't look like it broke the skin and the rat didn't bite me either. It only left a red scratch mark. I've been concerned about the chances of catching rabies? I've read online that rats don't carry rabies however I would like an expert opinion. Are you able to advise if I am at any risk for infection?


Category: Infectious Disease Specialist

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Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STD)Specialist
Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian is online now

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 4 Days.

Hello, Thanks for posting your query at I am glad to assist you.

There is no reported evidence of a rat carrying rabies or spreading rabies. That is only a theoretical possibility. It almost happened 2 weeks back. If you were infected, you would have manisfestd with symptoms such as high grade fever, confusion, some amount of agitation, excessive salivation, e.t.c

Moreover as i said, it is just a theoretical possibility and there has not been any reported cases as such. Rat bites can only cause rat bite fever, which again if you had, you would have had manifested some symptoms. So you can be rest assured, you are absolutely fine. Just for your information, if you ever have such exposure in the future, or where the rat scratches you and you bleed, then take Cap. Doxycycline 100 mg BD for 10 days. It is supposed to prevent the bacterial infection that you get exposed too after rat bite/scratch.

Do get back to me if you have any additional queries.

Patient replied :

Hi doctor, thankyou very much for your response. It is very reassuring.
Upon returning from Vietnam I did get sick for a couple of days (general cough and a little flu like) however that has now passed. I was partying quite hard while overseas (drinking a lot of alcohol and a lot of late nights) and I think this is why I got sick upon my return. I was already on doxycycline 100mg a day whilst in Vietnam for Malaria control so I'm assuming that would have taken care of any infection I may have encountered from the rat?
In your expert opinion would it be a waste of my time to recieve the post rabies treatment?
Thanks again.

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 3 Days.

What you had was a general flu and nothing to worry about.
Yes, the Doxycycline you were on was sufficient protection against anything untoward occurring from the rat bite/scratch.
You do not need rabies post exposure prophylaxis. You do not have any indication for the same. Please relax as the scratch is not going to cause rabies.
Take care.

Patient replied :

Thanks again for your comments doctor. I appreciate it.
I have one more question for you if that's ok? Since the scratch happened I have had a light burning sensation where it happened. I noticed it the day after. The scratch has healed completely however the burning sensation still remains. Any thoughts on this?
Thanks again.

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 2 Days.

Hello. I sincerely thank you for your appreciation.
The burning sensation is there just because of the inflammation that occured due to the scratch. If at all there is any minute scratch remnant, you can apply T. Bact ointment. Nothing else is required. If it has healed, nothing else is required. The burning should be gone in a couple of days.
Feel free to discuss further,

Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian
Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STD)Specialist
MD, Internal Medicine - Stanley Medical School
Medical School - MBBS - Govt. Medical College, Kottyaam

Diagnostic Prediction - Stanford School of Medicine
Received Specialty training in Critical Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology from Stanley Medical College and in Endocrinology, Rheumatology.

Hematology and Geriatrics from Madras Medical College.
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