Q. Should a person take rabies vaccine if his head is dried with a dog-licked cloth?

Answered by
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 20, 2023

Hello doctor,

Today I had a haircut in the saloon. First, my hair was washed, then they used clothes for hair drying, which may have been licked by a street dog because these dogs were present there. After the haircut, I had a small scratch with a blade on my head that I washed with shampoo. Should I be worried about it? Do I need to take an anti-rabies vaccine?



Welcome to

You need not have to worry about contracting rabies. The street dogs may not be rabid. However, if possible, you may watch the street dogs, signs and symptoms of rabies, or let a veterinarian check if the dog is identified. Rabies spreads by bites, scratches, and licks to the person, not by indirect methods. Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact, such as broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth, with saliva or brain or nervous system tissue from an infected animal. Animal's saliva or lick needs to get directly into a person's eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound (such as a scratch or a scrape. People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. You may get a preventive rabies vaccination called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or rabies vaccination administered ahead of time to protect from getting rabies from possible animal bites. This is recommended for those whose occupation frequently puts them at risk of animal bites, like veterinarians or animal handlers. Pre-exposure prophylaxis consists of one dose of intramuscular or intradermal vaccine injection at one site in the deltoid region on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28. Routine booster doses after primary rabies vaccination are not required. However, regular antibody titer screening is recommended for those at risk. When the titer falls below 0.5 IU/ ml, a booster dose is recommended when estimated by RFFIT (rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test) method. I hope this helps you.

Thank you.

Hello doctor,

So is there a need for me to take any vaccine?



Welcome back to

Since you do not have bites, scratches, or licks directly to the skin, wounds, eyes, nose, or mouth, you do not need a post-exposure prophylaxis vaccine. However, you might take the pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccine at the doses mentioned above in case you feel at risk based on your possible exposure to rabid animals.

Thank you.

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