Rabies is caused by the rabies virus which is transmitted in the saliva or infected body fluids of an infected animal, predominantly dogs (99 %) and cats. Infection can also happen from droplet spread especially after venturing into caves inhabited by bats.
Foxes, racoons and skunks are also accountable as well in some parts of the world, in particular North America. Any wild mammal can transmit rabies to humans via a wound or cut that comes into contact with the infected animal’s saliva.
Thousands of people around the world die from contracting rabies and is almost always fatal. Fortunately, this disease is easily preventable simply by having a course of vaccinations. (In some countries, the vaccine is only administered after the patient is bitten.) However, it can be given to higher risk individuals.
Immunisation of at-risk groups
Handlers of bat species.
Health workers caring for infected patients.
Laboratory workers handling the virus.
Travellers to endemic areas, which are remote and more than 24 hours from a medical facility.
Workers handling imported animals.
Zoo workers, veterinary staff, and local authority animal inspectors.
After the initial dose the second dose is given a week later followed 21 - 28 days later when the third final dose is given. All three complete the course and will ensure you have full protection.
The rabies virus affects the brain and nervous system. Initially the symptoms are similar to flu.
The virus avoids the normal immune defences by invading neural tissue and then incubates for approximately 3 - 12 weeks but can be from 4 days to 19 years depending on the virus strain. In 90% of cases incubation is less than a year.
Shorter incubation periods are seen in those with multiple or severe wounds and when treatment fails post infection.
The onset of pain or (Paraesthesia) at the wound site is a typical symptom. The virus then spreads throughout the nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In the final stages the virus spreads peripherally, including to the salivary glands.
The symptoms will often become severe and will include additional symptoms such as:
Disease risk areas for rabies infection include Africa, Afghanistan, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Argentina. Every year, there is about 55, 000 cases of rabies infection worldwide.
The cause of rabies infection is essentially a bite or scratch from an animal infected by the virus. The most common cause is a dog bite, but rabies can also be found in cats, foxes, raccoons, wild bats, jackals, and mongooses. You can also contract rabies when your infected pet licks an open would. Rabies vaccine is the only real effective protection against the infection. Children are less cautious about approaching animals and it is important parents should educated them against doing so.
If you are bitten by a dog or any animal you believe is infected by rabies, you should immediately get help from a doctor or hospital/clinic in the region. If you are worried, and believe you are at risk but cannot get to a doctor right away, clean and dose the area/wound with 40-70% alcohol, povidone iodine disinfectant, and avoid/postpone suturing the wound. (Penetrate the wound with (HRIG) Human rabies-specific immunoglobulin. Anti-tetanus prophylaxis should be given as well.)
If you are ever bitten while in a high risk area/region of rabies, make sure to wash with soap and rinse the wound under running water for several minutes.
Some countries are known to be free of rabies; however, all countries where certain bat populations are present pose a specific risk. A list of countries can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website, and the Public Health England (PHE) website where you can find whether the rabies risk is high or low in the country you are planning to visit.
Avoid contact with possible infected animals, even dead ones. Additionally, make sure to get vaccinated before travelling even if you already have done so before.
It is important to speak with the doctor or nurse at least a couple of months before your trip as updates and changes do happen periodically. The requirements also depend on your length of stay, any pre-existing health conditions and your health generally. Discussing this with our doctor or nurse will ensure that you are adequately covered and receive the necessary up-to-date vaccines and medicines for your protection.
Our clinic can help you get the right and recommended vaccines at affordable prices. (Please see our prices and fees page for more information.) Our vaccines are consistently updated depending on the current requirements.
You can feel confident that you are in safe hands. We work side by side with the health authorities to make sure we provide you with all the vaccines you need for safe travel.
Our clinic is registered and certified to administer Yellow Fever vaccines and will provide you with the necessary documentation for entry into certain countries that insist on it.
If you following the correct advice and appropriate health cover to remote areas your visit will be an uneventful and enjoyable one.
Our website provides the latest information on vaccine requirement and additional medications for the rest of the world. Check out the rest of the pages on this site to learn about the vaccines needed and additional medicines required for destinations abroad and to other areas. An excellent website we recommend is the Fitfortravel NHS website where you can get the latest and the most comprehensive information to keep you safe. Please also see our price and fees pages for more information.
All information has been licensed under the Open Government Licence. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/