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Hi:

Two years ago (or three) I went to Canada and played around with a cat there [it was my aunt's] that lived outside of their raspberry orchard. Well, I stroked it and I can't remember if it licked me on the hands or not. But I do know that I did pick it up. So, if this cat living outside had rabies, what are the odds of me getting it? I'm freaking out because it's been two or more years since that happened and I don't know if that cat was vaccinated...the cat didn't seem rabid and it didn't try to attack anyone, it just kind of walked around my legs like it did the previous year I saw.


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replied October 15th, 2010
Infectious Diseases Answer A16655
Hi, welcome to the ehealth forum and I am glad to help you.
You seem concerned by contact with a cat about 2-3 years back and the risk of acquiring rabies from the same though you are not sure of licks/bites by the same.
The risk of getting rabies from a cat is fairly low, with most cases of rabies now occurring in wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Still, about 7 percent of rabies cases occur in domestic animals, including cats and dogs.
An unprovoked attack is more suspicious to be from a rabid animal. On the other hand, if your child was trying to pet or pick up the cat and then got bit, that would be considered a provoked attack and would be less suspicious, although it wouldn't prove that the cat didn't have rabies.
Humans usually develop symptoms of rabies 1 to 3 months after they are exposed to the bite of a rabid animal, although it is important to keep in mind that the incubation period can range from a few days to several years later.
Since rabies is almost always fatal, most experts recommend erring on the side of caution if you think you could have been exposed to rabies. That means if you really think the animal could have had rabies and the cat can't be found to see if it has rabies, getting yourself beginning the first, in a series of five, rabies shots as soon as possible.
You can consult your personal physician for definitive management as the same is not possible online.
Hope this helps. Take care.
Note: This post is not to emphasise final diagnosis as the same cannot be made online and is aimed just to provide medical information and no treatment suggested above be taken without face to face consultation with health care professional.



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