When you are travelling to countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and South America, it is vitally important to have a Rabies vaccination so you do not contract Rabies:-
- In almost all cases contracting Rabies is fatal for adults and for children.
- Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
Rabies is a rare viral infection which causes a serious infection of the brain which is contracted from being bitten or scratched by an infected animal which is usually a dog. The infection travels along the nerves to the brain and to the spine.
Without treatment, the symptoms of rabies will usually start after 3 to 12 weeks, although they can start sooner or much later than this.
The first symptoms can include:
- High temperature
- Feeling anxious or generally unwell
- Possible discomfort at the site of the bite.
Other symptoms start a few days later, such as:
- Confusion or aggressive behaviour
- Producing lots of saliva or frothing at the mouth
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty swallowing and breathing
- An inability to move (paralysis).
All mammals can carry rabies. Animals usually spread the infection if they bite or scratch you. Contact with wild or domestic animals should be avoided. Travellers should also be advised:
- Not to approach animals
- Avoid touching any dead animals
- Be aware that certain activities may attract dogs (e.g. running, cycling).
Rabies is preventable if the correct post-exposure treatment (PET) is provided quickly.
If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal in an area with a risk of rabies:-
- Clean the wound immediately with running water and soap for several minutes
- Disinfect the wound with an alcohol- or iodine-based disinfectant and apply a simple dressing
- Visit the nearest medical centre, hospital or GP surgery as soon as possible and explain that you have been bitten or scratched.
You should consider being vaccinated against rabies if you are travelling to an area of the world where rabies is common and:-
- You plan to stay for a month or more, or you do not have quick access to appropriate medical care
- You plan to do activities that could put you at increased risk of exposure to animals with rabies, such as running or cycling
Individuals considered at risk of exposure to rabies viruses within the UK include:-
- Laboratory workers routinely handling rabies virus
- Workers at Defra-authorised quarantine premises and carriers
- Bat handlers who regularly handle bats, including on a voluntary basis, in the UK
- Veterinary and technical staff who due to their employment maybe at increased rabies risk
3 doses over a period of 28 days.