Rabies postexposure prophylaxis: What the U.S. emergency medicine provider needs to know

Acad Emerg Med. 2023 Nov;30(11):1144-1149. doi: 10.1111/acem.14755. Epub 2023 Jun 14.


Approximately 55,000 patients per year in the United States are exposed to potentially rabid animals and receive rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) and these patients commonly present to the emergency department (ED) for wound care and PEP. Despite the number of rabies exposures seen in EDs each year, there appears to be a knowledge gap among health care providers with regard to prescribing and administering rabies PEP. The following review aims to bridge that knowledge gap by discussing the importance of obtaining a comprehensive exposure history to determine the category of the encounter, the type of animal, and the location of the bite and of consulting outside expert resources to determine whether the rabies PEP series is indicated. In addition, this article will discuss dosing, administration, and schedule of the rabies vaccine and human rabies immune globulin to ensure patients are fully protected from developing rabies. Lastly, this article discusses the potential cost associated with rabies PEP and provides information on managing this barrier.

Keywords: emergency medicine; immunizations; postexposure prophylaxis; rabies; virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / therapeutic use
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
  • Rabies Vaccines*
  • Rabies* / prevention & control
  • United States


  • Rabies Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulins