I’ve had a run on questions around survival the rabies virus external the body. The topic come up periodically through respect to touching roadkill or vet clinic personnel functioning with animals that have been struck by an unknown animal. The case of three world who arisen rabies ~ taking care of a lamb that had actually been struck by a rabid animal, most likely through call with saliva indigenous the rabid pet on the sheep’s coat coming into contact with damaged skin on their hands, reflects the potential risk. Critical part that assessing the danger is understanding how long the virus lives external the body.

You are watching: At what temperature does the rabies virus die

Some viruses are very hardy and also can live because that weeks or even years external the body. Parvovirus and also norovirus are standard examples of this type. Part viruses, like HIV, die an extremely quickly in the environment. Part of this relates to whether they space "enveloped" or "non-enveloped" viruses. Covering viruses have a coating that is susceptible to damage from eco-friendly effects, disinfectants and other challenges. Damaging this coating kills the virus. Non-enveloped viruses don’t have actually that vulnerable coating and also that is in component why they are so much hardier.

Fortunately, rabies is an sheathe virus, and it doesn’t prefer being external of a mammal’s body. Data on rabies virus survival space pretty limited, due to the fact that it’s not straightforward thing come assess. To look at rabies virus survival, you have to flourish the virus, reveal it to different environmental conditions, then see if it’s still able to infect a mammal or a tissue culture. We deserve to do this conveniently with bacteria, but growing viruses is much more work, especially a danger virus such as rabies virus.

I deserve to only uncover one examine that has looked at rabies virus survive (and Ican just read the abstract due to the fact that the remainder of the document is in Czech). The research (Matouch et al, Vet Med (Praha) 1987) affiliated testing the rabies virus indigenous the salient gland of a normally infected fox. Lock exposed the virus to various conditions and also used two approaches to look at the infectivity of the virus.

When the virus was spread in a slim layer onto surfaces favor glass, metal or leaves, the longest survive was 144 hrs at 5 degrees C (that’s ~ 41F).At 20C(68F), the virus to be infective for 24h on glass and also leaves and also 48h top top metal.At 30C (86F), the virus didn’t critical long, gift inactivated within 1.5h through exposure come sunlight and also 20h without sunlight.

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So, rabies virus deserve to survive because that a while exterior the body. Temperature, humidity, sunshine exposure and also surface kind all most likely play crucial roles, yet in any certain situation you have the right to never make a very accurate forecast of the virus’s survival past "it will endure for a while, yet not an extremely long."

From a valuable standpoint, it simply reinforces some typical themes:

People need to avoid call with dead or injured animals.Veterinary personnel or pet owners managing a pet that has actually been attacked by another pet should undertake gloves, to wash their hands and also take details care if they have damaged skin.People who space at higher than normal danger of gift exposed to perhaps rabies-contaminated surfaces need to be vaccinated against rabies.

Image: Schematic chart of a rabies virus reflecting the outer viral envelope (source: CDC Public health and wellness Image Library)

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