Q. Can rabies be transmitted through saliva?

Answered by
Dr. Azeem Iyas Basha
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 09, 2022

Hi doctor,

A dog in our neighborhood has rabies. It was moving around on the road and might have dropped saliva on the concrete path. My son abruptly touched the road and then his forehead (unsure whether saliva was there or not). I washed his hand with handwash and water immediately but only wiped his forehead with handwash mixed with water once.

Then he wiped his forehead with a cloth to dry it, and some water (I am not sure if the saliva was still there) may have gotten into his eyes while doing so. Is there any concern about rabies in this case? All of this happened in about a minute, from touching the road to wiping his brow with a cloth. Is he in danger? I was concerned because he could have touched the saliva, and he might have touched his eyes with those hands. Does he require a vaccine?



Welcome to

I understand your concern.

For many years, I have been treating rabies patients. As in your child's case, rabies in dog saliva may enter through the eyes. The rabies vaccine must be administered to children under three to prevent rabies. Please keep an eye on the dog for any unusual behavior. Contact with the rabies virus through the eye is classified as type 3 exposure. My recommendation is to get vaccinated for rabies. The rabies vaccine dose is 1 ml intramuscular in the thigh for 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days. Also, use refresher eye drops.

The Probable causes:

The rabies virus is transmitted through dog saliva.

Investigations to be done:


Differential diagnosis:


Probable diagnosis:


Treatment plan:

Strat Rabipur vaccination 1 ml intramuscular in the thigh for five shots.

Preventive measures:

Wash the eyes thoroughly. Use refresh eye drops.

Regarding follow up:

Kindly ask for queries and follow-ups.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

A dog's saliva is only suspected to be present on the concrete road (not before 15-20 seconds and might be more than that). My son is suspected of touching it. Then his forehead (I doubt his hands could have accidentally touched his eyes) or when I wiped his forehead once with water mixed with hand sanitizer. He then wiped his forehead with a cloth and the water. Saliva could have gotten into his eyes. Is the vaccine still required?



Welcome back to

I understand your concern.

Viruses that enter the child's eyes through saliva are much more likely to affect the brain than other body parts, such as dog bites. Because the retina of the eye contains nerves that connect directly to the brain, vaccination is strongly advised for safety. Once infected with rabies, the child's life will be miserable. Vaccination is a good and safe form of post-exposure prevention. Please do so and do not jeopardize the child's life.

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