Rabies is a rare but very serious infection of the brain and nerves. It’s usually caught from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, most often a dog. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, but treatment before this is very effective.
Without treatment, the symptoms of rabies will usually start after 3 to 12 weeks, although they can start sooner or much later than this.
Symptoms can include:
- a high temperature
- a headache
- feeling anxious or generally unwell
- in some cases, discomfort at the site of the bite
- confusion or aggressive behaviour
- seeing or hearing things (hallucinations)
- producing lots of saliva or frothing at the mouth
- difficulty swallowing and breathing
- inability to move (paralysis)
Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.
1. How do you catch it?
Rabies is usually spread through bites from infected animals. Licks and scratches from infected animals, including to the eyes, nose or mouth can also cause Rabies. Dog bites are the most common cause of Rabies in humans.
Avoid contact with animals during your travels – some infected animals may behave strangely, but sometimes there may be no obvious signs that they’re infected. Avoid touching any dead animals and avoid feeding stray animals. A pre-exposure course of three vaccines is available for travellers.
3. Vaccination options
A pre-exposure course of three vaccines is available for travellers.
Number of doses? 3 doses over 21 or 28 days. (Accelerated course is 3 doses over 7 days, then a 4th dose at 12 months, only for those who absolutely need it.)
When to do the course? Ideally, the final dose should be administered 7-14 days before your trip, although even a day before your trip is acceptable.
Booster doses? Duration of protection is approximately 10 years. If you are working with animals or are otherwise at a higher risk, more frequent boosters may be recommended.
Age restrictions? Vaccine is available for anyone above the age of one
4. At risk destinations
Rabies is endemic in 150 countries. Some holiday hotspots that are considered high risk for Rabies including parts of Asia, Africa, South America and the Far East. India accounts for the majority of human death by Rabies worldwide.
5. Our service
For a free risk assessment and expert advice, contact us today and speak with one of our dedicated healthcare professionals.