Rabies is caused by a virus that can be passed to humans through the bite of a rabid animal (an animal who has it). People in the United States are most likely to get rabies from wild animals, especially bats. Animals like raccoons, skunks, and foxes may also spread rabies. It’s also possible to get rabies from pets, like dogs and cats, that haven’t been vaccinated. In countries where rabies is still common, people often get it through the bite of a rabid dog.

Rabies vaccine is given to people at high risk of rabies to protect them if they are exposed, like veterinarians. It can also prevent the disease if it is given to a person after they have been exposed. Rabies vaccine is made from killed rabies virus. It cannot cause rabies.

If you are bitten by an animal that could have rabies, contact your doctor right away.

Learn more about seeking medical attention for rabies.