What is Rabies and How does it spread?

Rabies is a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals transmissible through the saliva to humans and causing madness and convulsions. Travellers can become infected through the virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals.

What is Rabies Vaccine and Why should Travellers get the Vaccine?

Vaccination against rabies is used in two distinct situations: the vaccines used for pre-exposure and post-exposure are the same but the immunization schedule differs. They can be used to prevent Rabies before and for a period of time after exposure to the virus such as by a dog or bat bite. Doses are usually given by injection into the skin or muscle. Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the Rabies virus must get medical care right away. Doctors give two shots as soon as possible: Rabies immune globulin. This provides protection right away while the vaccine starts working. The Rabies vaccine is given as a series of four doses, on days 0, 3, 7, and 14 (day 0 is the day of the first dose). People with a weakened immune system get an extra dose on day 28.

Who Should get the Rabies Vaccine?

Contact with wild or domestic animals will put you at risk of Rabies; Spending a lot of time outdoors (such as campers and cavers), Children are also at higher risk because they often play with animals, and travellers with occupational risks (such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals). If travelling to a country where there is an increased incidence of rabies, especially in canine populations; rabies pre-exposure vaccination may be recommended. Rabies vaccination should also be considered if you will be spending lots of time outdoors in rural areas or plan to handle animals. Before travelling abroad, consult your doctor or a travel clinic about your risk of exposure to rabies and how to handle an exposure should it arise.

Rabies Fever Symptoms

  1. The first symptoms of Rabies can appear from a few days to more than a year after the bite happens. At first, there’s a tingling, prickling, or itching feeling around the bite area.
  2. A person also might have flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and tiredness.
  3. They can also feel irritability or aggressiveness, excessive movements or agitation, confusion, bizarre or strange thoughts, and hallucinations.
  4. Muscle spasms and unusual postures can happen along with seizures (convulsions), weakness or paralysis, and extreme sensitivity to bright lights can also occur.

What can travelers do to prevent the disease?

  1. Immediately: Wash the bite area well with soap and water and cover the bite with a clean bandage.
  2. Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency department. Anyone with a possible rabies infection must be treated in a hospital.
  3. Get a rabies vaccine
  4. Avoid touching all animals, including wild animals and pets.
  5. Pets in other countries may not be vaccinated against rabies
  6. Make kids aware to  help them stay away from wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes