Beware: Bats, Bites, Licks and Scratches - Rabies update from The Travel Clinic Ltd
2011 has already seen much disruption and panic resulting from potential exposure to rabies.
22 children in Ukraine received post bite treatment after playing with a puppy that later died from rabies. A woman in the area had already died from the disease.
Several states in the USA have had to treat people after exposure. There have been reports of raccoons, dogs and skunks being found with the disease.
2 communities in The Amazonas region of Peru have been badly affected. 1200 people have reported being bitten by bats. At least 7 children are believed to have died of rabies. A community wide vaccine campaign is being planned.
In 2010, Bali had a mass vaccine campaign of over 400,000 dogs, after 93 people died after dog bites. Russia and Vietnam both reported increases in people dying from rabies.
Please remember, rabies can be contracted through bites, licks and scratches from any mammal, or bat bite. Remember to avoid any contact with animals where possible. If anything does happen, first aid is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply disinfectant and seek urgent medical help. Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG) should be given within 24 hours, with a course of 5 vaccine doses, to ensure protection. HRIG is very expensive and can be difficult to find in many countries. You may need to curtail your trip and fly home or to the nearest major city to source the correct injections. An alternative, is a pre-travel course of Rabies Vaccine, which will mean that you would not need the HRIG, and just two booster doses of vaccine are required when you can access safe needles, though first aid advice and the need to seek medical care still applies.
Please speak to us at The Travel Clinic if you are travelling to an area considered high risk for rabies, or if you will be visiting any areas where you are unlikely to be able to get to good, safe medical care within 24 hours.