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Family Physician
Family Physician, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
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Some background.... - Adopted a stray kitten about 2 months

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Some background....

- Adopted a stray kitten about 2 months ago
- We live in Thailand, no vets around here = no easy access to vaccines
- The cat was unvaccinated
- we have 2 other cats, older, both ok
- the kitten was bitten by something about 6 weeks ago, presumed to be our other cats but we live in the jungle
- 2 weeks ago, the cat developed breathing difficulty, fever, was hiding, not eating/ drinking, discharge from nose, eyes, mouth (no diarrhea or vomiting at all)
- After 2nd day of this, the cat suddenly looked very distraught and froze up and just died
- This was 2 weeks ago (14 days)
- We sent the cat to be tested for rabies, which the test came back, inconclusive??? They said negative, but they sent to ANOTHER lab "Just to be sure"????? And took 2 weeks, at which time it was recommended that I have the rabies vaccine "Just in case"

My question is regarding the rabies exposure (I am 17 weeks pregnant). I was feeding the cat (with a syringe) , but was not bit or scratched. I was wiping the drool and cleaning the cat, and did have a very small, 3 day closed scratch (not deep) on my thumb. The cat may have scratched me a little bit, not nearly breaking the skin, just a little red for a few minutes with his tooth.

Is it too late to get the rabies vaccine after 14 days? Do I even need it based on my exposure?

The rabies vaccine is considered effective if given up to 14 days after an exposure. Here is the official prescribing information for the vaccine. Specifically, I bring your attention to the following section:

  1. Post-exposure efficacy of Imovax Rabies vaccine was successfully proven during clinical experience in Iran in which six 1.0 mL doses were given on days 0, 3, 7, 14, 30, and 90, in conjunction with antirabies serum. Forty-five persons severely bitten by rabid dogs and wolves received Imovax Rabies vaccine within hours of and up to 14 days after the bites. All individuals were fully protected against rabies.

While the risk from a non-bite exposure is considered much less than a bite, I do believe that the current CDC (USA) recommendations would be for you to receive the vaccine.

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