World Rabies Day 28th September - news from The Travel Clinic Cambridge and Ipswich
Over 90 % of the global human rabies deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Between 30 to 50% of these deaths occur in children less than 15 years of age as a result of bites from infected dogs. All of these deaths could be prevented through prompt and proper wound care and administration of post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin) according to WHO guidelines. Many of these untreated exposures could be prevented through comprehensive and coordinated rabies vaccination of dog populations. This approach will result in local elimination of dog-associated strains of rabies viruses, especially if coupled with population management and novel approaches for hard-to-reach animals. When rabies is eliminated in its main animal reservoirs, human exposures decline precipitously. Despite the fact that rabies in dogs and humans is relatively easily preventable, this disease remains a low priority in most regions of the world where dog rabies is present.
World Rabies Day was started in order to increase global awareness as to this ongoing tragedy and this year it falls on the 28th September. At The Travel Clinic Ltd we aim to make travellers aware of the risks in volved in travelling to countries with rabies outbreaks and below have devised a list of FAO for prospective travellers.
What causes it?
Infected dogs are the most common cause of human infection worldwide, but in Western countries most cases are caused by bites from infected bats.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms include fever, headache, numbness and tingling around the wound. Later, spasms, hallucinations, extreme thirst, hydrophobia, manic behaviour, paralysis and coma may develop.
Symptoms usually occur two to eight weeks after infection, but it can take two years or more for them to appear.
Rabies infection is most common in Africa and parts of Asia. It's rare in Western countries. In 2002, a bat enthusiast in Scotland was the first person to die of UK-acquired rabies since 1902.
How is it prevented?
To reduce the risk of infection, travellers are advised to avoid stray animals when visiting high-risk areas.
A rabies vaccine is available and recommended for people travelling to high-risk parts of the world or whose occupation involves handling the rabies virus or potentially infected animals.
What's the treatment?
Treatment involves injections of antibodies that fight the virus, followed by a rabies vaccination to stimulate production of more antibodies.
For the best chance of survival, treatment should be given as soon as possible after the bite. Once symptoms have appeared, rabies infection is almost always fatal
If a person is bitten by a suspected infected animal, they should clean the wound and seek medical attention. The doctor will take samples from skin, blood, saliva and spinal fluid and examine them carefully, but there is no single test. If there is any doubt then medication will be administered - Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) will be given to the patient instantly. This provides strong protection, but only temporarily. In addition to this, a course of the rabies vaccine will be started.
The WHO estimates that more than 12 million people are attacked each year by dogs, snakes or scorpions.
Around 8 million ought to have precautionary treatment for rabies following a dog bite but only 6% get it.
Rabies remains the 10th most common cause of death from infections in humans.
It is a disease which is 100% fatal if untreated - but also 100% preventable if treated early enough with the right drugs.
www.travelclinic.ltd.uk At The Travel Clinic Ltd we can administer courses and boosters of rabies vaccines, along with comprehensive advice. For more information please visit our websiteor call us on 01223 367362.