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Ask Buck

Rabies from a Hydration Unit?

Can you get rabies or other diseases by using a bite valve that some animal has been nibbling on? Will alcohol sanitizer "sterilize" it?

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Question:

Can you get rabies or other diseases by using a bite valve that some animal has been nibbling on? Will alcohol sanitizer “sterilize” it?

Submitted by – Dan, Paradise Valley, AZ

Answer:

So far, no known case of rabies in humans has been proven to come from anything other than a bite or scratch of a rabid animal, or from receiving an organ transplant from another human who had rabies. There are, however, a few cases of rabies in humans where the source of the virus remains unknown.

Rabies outside a host is not a very strong virus. It is killed with a thorough wash with soap and water. Also recommended are antiviral substances such as povidone-iodine and benzalkonium chloride (both easily available over the counter). A 70-percent solution of alcohol has been proven lethal to the virus.

Since we’re talking about possible surface contamination (the bite valve) and not wound contamination, I think (1) the risk is low, and (2) any good washing will eliminate any possible risk. And that goes for other diseases that might be lurking in animal slobber. –BUCK