Is rabies still a problem?

Yes, currently rabies kills around 59,000 people each year across 150 countries. Although 95% of cases occur in Africa and Asia regions.

Is there more than one type?

Rabies is a viral infection of the brain and nerves. There are two types of rabies. 80% of cases are furious rabies where people are hyperactive and hallucinogenic. The remaining 20% of cases are paralytic rabies where people are paralysed and go into a coma.

What are the symptoms or rabies?

In addition those mentioned above, other symptoms include fever, pain and a burning sensation at the wound area. Then there is progressive inflammation of the brain and spinal cord as the virus spreads causing neurological dysfunction (anxiety, confusion, agitation), intolerance to noise, light or drafts, difficulty swallowing and nausea.

Can you survive it?

The incubation period of rabies is typically 2-3m, but this can vary greatly from 1wk-1yr. But once symptoms appear, rabies is fatal. Palliative treatment of rabies patients will focus on reducing pain and anxiety, and keeping the patient as comfortable as possible.

Is rabies only transferred through dogs?

Rabies is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. 99% of cases are caused through rabid dogs, of which most are domestic. Anyone who has been bitten or has been exposed to the saliva is at risk. 80% of cases occur in rural areas, and children are at a higher risk as they play with animals. Other animals such as bats, monkey, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves and cats are also known to transmit rabies to humans.

What should I do if I get an animal bite?

You should wash the wound immediately with soapy water and flush it out with lots of water. Then apply iodine to the wound and go to a health centre immediately.

How can I protect myself from Rabies?

The disease is preventable with the rabies vaccine which is administered in a series of doses. The same vaccine is also used immediately after exposure. Regardless of whether you have had a previous vaccination, if exposed to the virus you will need another series of vaccines. The benefit of taking the vaccine before you go to your destination is that it provides an initial protection and after exposure you will only need 2 post exposure vaccines, rather than the third very high costing Human Rabies Immunoglobin.

The World Health Organisation also runs programmes to raise awareness and educate people about dog behaviour as preventing dog bites and vaccinating dogs help to reduce the number of rabies infections across the world.

When should I get vaccinated against Rabies?

Your risk of rabies depends upon where you are travelling to, what activities you are doing when you get there and how long you are staying.

Your risk of rabies is increased if you:

  • Travel to rural or remote areas of Africa, Asia and Central and South America
  • Are in contact with animals
  • Are going to areas with poor medical facilities
  • Take part in activities such as camping, hiking, backpacking, running, cycling or caving

How do I find out if I need a rabies vaccination?

Check to see if you require any travel vaccinations for your trip, you can also book an online appointment with a travel health professional at a clinic near you where you can discuss your plans and requirements, you may also need malaria medication. Find out more about staying healthy on holiday.

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