Can rabies virus remain infectious on environment i.e on soil, grasses, leaves and water?

I am just paranoid I may come into contact with rabid animal's saliva without knowing it. So wanted to know if the virus can infect like this.

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    What has your research thus far shown? – DoctorWhom Oct 11 at 14:20
  • I only found that it can be transmitted through a bite and scratch with saliva on it. So wanted to know if there are any cases of transmission from the virus outside of host. – Ken Oct 11 at 14:41

Can rabies virus remain infectious on environment i.e on soil, grasses, leaves and water?

Generally, an exposure requires a bite from an infected animal, or saliva or neural tissue to be introduced to an open wound or mucous membrane. The CDC has a succinct description here.

There are rare instances of infection from other exposures:

Human to human transmission can occur via tissue and organ transplantation from a person who died of rabies.

There were two cases (in 1956 and 1958) where transmission to humans was attributed to aerosol exposure in a particular cave in Texas inhabited by millions of bats. This may have involved direct contact with saliva or neural tissue. There is a fascinating 1962 study, in response to these reports, that suggests transmission to animals without direct contact with the bats. A more recent study also demonstrated aerosol transmission between animals. This type of transmission seems to require a very particular environment and a large dose of virus.

In summary

Generally you need direct exposure to an animal for it to be considered an infectious exposure. There are very rare reports of two other types of exposure described above. If, somehow, you have a large, still wet sample of saliva or CSF from a rabid animal laying on soil, grass, or leaves, though, there may be viable virus. Rabies is not particularly hardy, and difficult to maintain in culture. There are no reports of transmission from fomites (contaminated objects in the environment).

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    I remember reading the article about the infections from a bat cave; what likely happened is the air being "thick with bat saliva", producing an aerosol that gets into the mucus membranes in the eyes or nose. General rule of thumb - bats have the potential to be very bad for your health, don't hang around them – user1258361 Oct 11 at 18:05
  • @user1258361 Has there been any cases of virus infection from outside of host? Can it be transmitted from saliva from a rabid animal thats on the environment. – Ken Oct 12 at 3:29
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    @Ken as the answer says, if saliva or neural tissue is introduced to an open wound or mucous membrane, that's an exposure that can transmit the virus. – De Novo Oct 12 at 4:24
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    @Ken You've been given an answer to your question. Why do you persist? – Carey Gregory Oct 13 at 15:14
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    @Ken Sorry, we can't help you with that. The answer is there's virtually zero chance of you contracting rabies from the environment. That's the best we can do. – Carey Gregory Oct 13 at 22:07

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