Several news sources have reported that 15 teenagers contracted rabies in Morocco after having sex with a donkey, e.g. (in Spanish):

The references point to the daily paper Al Akhbar, without mentioning any dates or names.

Did any Moroccan teenagers get infected by rabies from bestiality from a donkey?

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    An article in New Scientist on rabies (sorry may be behind paywall) indicates that only the variant of the disease that occurs in dogs is easily transmissible to humans. (But don't conclude from this that I'm saying sex with donkeys is therefore perfectly fine)
    – peterG
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 18:04
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    With dogs biting humans, the treatment is given even if they don't know whether the dog is rabid. Relevant term: prophylactic (and I don't mean condom).
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 23:31
  • I note that the articles do not contain any confirming details like names, dates or locations. This smells strongly of an urban legend, with whiffs of racism and ageism.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 10:23
  • @Oddthinking the most common stereotype about bestiality in Australia may involve nationality, but doesn't involve race. I would be cautious about attributing these claims to racism.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 11:21
  • 1
    @peterG I think this may be a misinterpretation. Eliminating rabies in dogs is especially important since they have so much contact with humans but plenty of other animals (bats!!) can easily transmit the disease to humans.
    – user399601
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 6:07

1 Answer 1


Is it possible for rabies to be spread from donkeys to humans? People have received medical treatment on the assumption that it can be spread via biting.

A man was treated for rabies after being bitten by a rabid donkey. From Man bitten by rabid pet donkey:

There are fears that he may contract rabies:

Durban - A Shongweni man's life is in serious danger after his pet donkey bit him - and then tested positive for rabies.

Dave Smith must now endure an anxious few weeks before knowing if ongoing treatment has successfully combated the infection.

Although symptoms of the viral disease can rear up years later, the first month or so is usually critical.

The man received treatment for rabies, and it appears the treatment was done immediately, without checking whether he had developed any symptoms of rabies:

Despite his best efforts, Smith could not prise them open and had to wait for Milo to eventually release him. That’s when he realised the severity of the wound and feared his pet was infected with rabies.

Smith cleaned the wound, notified the vet and shot off to hospital in Hillcrest. While he was receiving treatment - the better part of a 200ml injection into his thumb - the vet had called the animal pound and an employee arrived to check Milo, and decided to put him down.

The donkey itself tested positive for rabies:

The carcass was taken to Pietermaritzburg and, about three hours later, test results returned positive for rabies.

The earlier the treatment, the better:

Rabies is a viral infection transmitted by animals and attacks the brain. Survival is not likely if untreated. The earlier the treatment, the better the chance of survival.

In case media reports aren't sufficiently reliable, much information about rabies is confirmed in a WHO document about rabies. Note: it doesn't discuss the possibility of rabies being transmitted sexually.

It mentions the behaviour of rabid donkeys in a section titled "Q2: How is rabies transmitted?":

Horses and donkeys get aggressive and bite ferociously when they are rabid.

this is in contrast to discussing the behaviour of some other animals:

Cattle and buffaloes do not bite when they are rabid, but precautions should be taken while examining sick animals that are salivating.

It mentions that a variety of infection routes exist. It can be spread via saliva, even when there isn't biting:

The rabies virus invades the nervous system of mammals. It is primarily transmitted from the rabid animal’s saliva when it bites or scratches someone. Licks to wounds or grazed and broken skin, or to the lining of the mouth and nose, can also transmit the disease.

It also mentions that there is little treatment once rabies develops. From "Q10: Is there any specific treatment for a rabies patient?":

There is no specific treatment once rabies develops. There is almost nothing that can be done apart from keeping the patient comfortable, and free from physical pain and emotional upset.

and from "Q11: Is rabies always fatal?"

Human rabies caused by the classical rabies virus continues to be almost 100% fatal, with no specific treatment available anywhere in the world.

and you should receive treatment immediately, rather than waiting for the dog to exhibit signs of rabies. From "Q 12: Is simply observing the biting dog or cat for 10 days without starting treatment justified?"

No. In countries where rabies is prevalent in a large population of dogs and cats, it is compulsory to start treatment and keep the biting dog/cat under 10 days of observation.

While researching this, I came across Health Risks of Zoophilia/Bestiality, but this was published by the predatory journal group OMICS, and the author is a psychologist, not a medical scientist. Wikipedia's article "Zoophilia and health" has a section titled List of zoonoses which mentions rabies as a disease which can be sexually transmitted, but does not provide citations for the claim.

The articles cited in the question do not state that the individuals involved displayed symptoms of rabies, but merely stated that they received preventative treatment for rabies. Based on the information available, it is very plausible that individuals would have been given preventative medical treatment.

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    Seems a theoretical answer ...
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 16:19
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review
    – SIMEL
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 8:07
  • @fredsbend I have added additional details to my answer. How is it now?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 11:23
  • @SIMEL I have added details to the answer.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 11:24
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    This can be turned into an answer if you phrase it as "Donkeys can transmit rabies, and once an infected person shows symptoms there is no known cure and fatality is 100%, they have probably gave the treatment as a preventative measure, regardless of the the chances of infection through sex". It's still not the best answer, as it assumes the intentions of the treating doctors, but it's better that the current one.
    – SIMEL
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 11:40

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