Rabies Vaccine.

The Independent General Practice

Rabies Vaccine Information

Rabies is a viral infection that can be contracted from the saliva of a rabies infected or rabid animal. In most cases infection results from a bite but even a lick on an open cut or sore can be enough.

Symptoms start with itching and tingling at the site of the healed bite and then rapidly progresses to include headache, fever, spreading paralysis, confusion, aggression and hydrophobia. It may take many weeks or months for symptoms to develop although it usually takes two to eight weeks. Animals may be infectious for five days before they develop symptoms.

The risk to travellers depends on their exposure to infected animals and so travellers visiting tourist resorts are generally at very low risk. Pre-exposure immunisation against rabies is recommended for long-stay travellers/residents and those who intend to travel to rural and remote areas. It is also advised that travellers do not approach or handle animals you don't know, particularly if they are acting strangely.

Rabies£causes spasms, extreme thirst, fear of water (hydrophobia), madness and paralysis, and it is almost always fatal.

Rabies is usually spread through the saliva of an animal that is carrying the virus.

High Risk Areas:

Rabies is found in animals almost everywhere, but most human cases occur in Asia, Africa, and South and Latin America.

Vaccination against rabies is usually carried out as a precautionary measure, in case you are bitten by an animal that might have rabies and medical attention is not available.

The rabies vaccine is recommended for anyone who is:

travelling to an area where rabies is common in animals (such as jungle habitats), for one month or more, and where there is no access to prompt and safe medical care.

travelling to an area where rabies is common and carrying out activities that expose you to rabies, such as trekking in a jungle

working abroad in close contact with animals, such as veterinarians or animal handlers at zoos

Transmission may occur following contact with the saliva of an infected animal (including bats) via a bite, scratch or lick to an open wound.

Pre exposure vaccination should be given to at risk adults and children who travel to remote areas where prompt access to reliable medical care may not be available. The risk of exposure is increased by:

Longer durations of stay (e.g. a month or more) Certain activities like running or cycling Occupation (e.g. veterinarians)£

Young age (children are less likely to avoid contact with animals or report a risk of exposure e.g. lick or bite)

All travellers to endemic areas should be advised to avoid contact with wild or domestic animals, particularly dogs and cats. No animal bite should be ignored. Advice should be given regarding first aid in the case of a possible rabies exposure.

Vaccine Information


The rabies vaccination consists of three injections over the course of a month (on days 0, 7 and 28). A Booster dose is required every 2-3 years for those people who continue to be a continual or reoccurring risk of rabies exposure (because of their job, for example). The£vaccine is usually only recommended if the potential risk of exposure to rabies is thought to be high and there is limited access to medical care. There is no minimum age for one of the rabies vaccines.

Vaccine side effects

- After having the rabies vaccine, some people experience temporary soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site for 24-48 hours after the vaccination. In rare cases, some people may also experience: A mild fever, headache, muscle, aches, vomiting and a rash.

Severe reactions are very rare. However, details of possible side effects and special precautions should be discussed during the appointment.

Please be aware that for full immunity some vaccination courses, with more than one vaccine required, may take up to a month or longer. Please, also be aware that many vaccinations will not become fully effective until weeks after the course completion. It is strongly advised that you leave plenty of time to complete the course before your trip. Intervals between different vaccines or doses are recommended, which allows time for antibodies to be produced and any reaction to the vaccine to subside.

The above information should only be used as a guide and is not a substitute for medical advice. All vaccinations are only carried out following a Travel Risk Assessment and Consultation. The brand of vaccine we supply may also vary depending on the current supply status of a particular vaccine.

In order for us to assess the most appropriate vaccines please complete our Travel Risk Assessment.


Travel Risk Assessment
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