Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease
It’s spread mostly by contact with saliva from any rabies-infected wild or domestic animal, including pets, via a bite, scratch, or a lick to an open wound. If animal saliva gets into your eyes, mouth or nose (mucous membranes) this is also a risk.
Bats can also carry rabies, including in the United Kingdom (UK). In humans, rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. It’s is found in more than 150 countries and territories on all continents, apart from Antarctica.
The fatal but preventable viral disease, poses a significant threat to travellers worldwide. With recent shortages in rabies vaccines, it’s crucial to understand how to protect yourself, especially when traveling to high-risk areas.
Before Your Trip
It is present in over 150 countries. The disease is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, typically through bites, scratches, or licks on open wounds. High-risk areas include Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, but risks exist even in countries like the UK, where bats can carry rabies.
While pre-exposure vaccination is ideal, vaccine shortages may make this challenging. Check with health professionals about vaccine availability and the necessity based on your destination. Keep in mind that completing the vaccination course abroad might be a solution, albeit with potential difficulties due to limited supplies in some regions.
If vaccinated, carry your vaccine records during travel. These are crucial in case of animal contact necessitating medical attention.
Insurance and Health Advice:
Ensure you have travel health insurance. If your job increases your rabies exposure risk (like veterinary work or animal control), seek specific advice from occupational health experts.
During Your Travel
Avoid Animal Contact: The primary preventive measure is avoiding all contact with wild and domestic animals. This includes not approaching, picking up, or feeding animals, particularly stray or ill ones. Remember, even animals that appear healthy can be carriers of rabies.
Immediate Action if Exposed:
In case of an animal bite, scratch, or lick, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Seek urgent medical help, even if you’re pre-vaccinated. Post-exposure treatment is crucial and should not be delayed.
Consult Your GP:
On return, especially if you had an animal encounter, consult your GP. You may require a course of rabies vaccines even if you received treatment abroad.
Rabies is a serious health risk for travellers, but with proper precautions and awareness, it can be effectively managed, even amidst vaccine shortages. Understanding the risks, getting vaccinated when possible, avoiding animal contact, and seeking immediate medical care if exposed are key steps to protect yourself from this deadly disease.
Stay informed and safe on your travels. Contact us to book a consultation.