Let’s Talk About Getting Vaccination Before You Travel

I get a lot of questions about rabies – so let’s start there.

My son Guy, managed somehow to get bitten by …. a mouse! in India!

Yes. very talented young man.

He participated in a community project of cleaning the streets in Goa, and one of the

Indian kids brought him a mouse. Guy, of course, had to touch the mouse.
It was very stressful. so what do we do now?

First thing, always wash the wound well with plenty of soap and water. In the meantime, you can calm down a bit.

As It turns out that mice do not transmit rabies, what a relief! (they do transmit many other things, but this is for another post).

So should you get vaccinated for rabies before you travel?
The answer is more complex than a simple yes or no.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals. All mammals can get rabies.

People contract rabies from a lick, bite or scratch by an infected dog and other animals such as bats, foxes, racoons, and mongooses.

Rabies affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing brain disease and death.

Once the symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is almost always fatal, so prevention is especially important.

who is at risk?

Rabies is found around the world, except in Antarctica. Travellers who may come into contact with wild or domestic animals are at risk for rabies. This includes travellers spending a lot of time outdoors such as campers, travellers with occupational risks such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals, and long-term travellers and expatriates. Children are also at higher risk because they often play with animals and might not report bites, they are also more likely to be bitten on the head and neck, and the closer to the brain the more risk.

In many countries, the risk of rabies is low, like the United States, most of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia. However, in many other parts of the world, rabies in dogs is still a problem, and access to preventive treatment may be hard. These areas include much of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. If travelling to a country where there is an increased risk of rabies, especially in dogs, rabies vaccination may be recommended before your trip.

What can travellers do prevent rabies?

**Get a rabies vaccine, if recommended:

Talk to your doctor about your travel plans, If your activities will bring you in contact with animals such as dogs, cats, bats, or other carnivores, you should consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination, which is a 3-shot series (days 0, 7, and 21 or 28) given before travel.

Even if you receive a pre-exposure vaccination, you should still get immediate medical treatment if you are bitten or scratched by a sick animal.

**Avoid animal bites:

Avoid touching all animals, including wild animals and pets. Pets in other countries may not be vaccinated against rabies.

Supervise children closely, especially around dogs, cats, and wildlife such as monkeys.

If you are travelling with your pet, supervise your pet closely and do not allow it to play with local animals, including local pets and especially avoid stray animals.

Avoid bringing animals home. Dogs and cats may be infected with rabies but not show signs until several days or months after you first encounter them.

**Act quickly if an animal bites or scratches you:

Wash the wound well with soap and water.

See a healthcare provider right away, even if you don’t feel sick or your wound does not look serious. To prevent rabies, you may need to start a series of vaccinations immediately.

Even if you have been vaccinated against rabies, you still must get treatment as soon as possible if you are exposed to an animal that might have rabies. Pre-exposure vaccination will simplify your treatment after being bitten, and it may buy you more time to seek health care, but it doesn’t eliminate the need to be treated.

The information is taken from the CDC website, for more information go to https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/rabies