Wound characteristics and infiltration with immune globulin for rabies postexposure prophylaxis in the emergency department

Tomona Iso, Fangzheng Yuan, Elsie Rizk, Anh Thu Tran, R. Benjamin Saldana, Prasanth R. Boyareddigari, Ngoc anh A. Nguyen, Daniela Espino, Joshua T. Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: This study described characteristics of wounds caused by animal exposures and evaluated patient factors and wound factors associated with wound infiltration of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG). Materials and methods: This retrospective cohort study evaluated wound characteristics among patients who had visible wounds and received HRIG or rabies vaccine for rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) at 15 emergency departments from May 2016 to June 2018. Results: Of 110 included patients (9 children, 82 adults, and 19 older adults), 21% (n = 23) had ≥2 wounds, and 10% (n = 11) had infected wounds. Twenty-eight (25%) patients had severe wounds, defined as receiving sutures (n = 20) or reaching subcutaneous tissue or bone (n = 20). Wounds were present on upper extremities for 42% (n = 46) of patients, lower extremities for 35% (n = 38), head/face for 3% (n = 3), and in multiple locations for 21% (n = 23). Wounds were < 3 cm in length for 64% (n = 70) of patients. Puncture wounds were present in 60% (n = 66) of patients, abrasions in 45% (n = 49), and lacerations in 38% (n = 42). Among 108 wounds from 82 patients with documented HRIG administration sites, 57% (n = 62) of wounds received HRIG infiltration. Infiltration occurred less frequently for wounds on the face/head/torso (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.01 to 0.49), wounds on hands/fingers (aOR = 0.20, 95% CI = 0.06 to 0.65), and abrasion-only wounds (aOR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.80) after adjusting for age. Conclusions: Upon presentation for rabies PEP, most patients did not have severe wounds and did not require emergency services or complex wound management. Wounds on the face, head, torso, hands, or fingers and abrasions were less likely to receive HRIG infiltration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Animal wounds
  • Emergency department
  • Rabies immune globulin
  • Rabies postexposure prophylaxis
  • Wound characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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