Tips and recommendations for healthy travel to top destinations
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Rabies is caused by the Rhabdovirus family and transmitted in the saliva of infected domestic and wild animals after they bite or scratch another animal or a human. Rabies is 100% fatal if untreated. In the early stages rabies symptoms are non-specific but usually suggest involvement of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or central nervous system. Death due to respiratory failure is typical in untreated persons usually within the first 7 days of illness.
The risk of serious problems from the rabies vaccine are very rare. The most common reactions to the rabies vaccine include soreness, redness, swelling, or itching where the shot was given. About five to forty percent of those who receive the vaccine may experience headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches and/or dizziness. Hives, pain in the joints and fever have also been reported from about six percent of booster doses.
The rabies vaccine is available nationwide at all Passport Health clinic locations. Access to preventative rabies treatment may be hard to get in certain areas of the world so it is important to plan ahead. Make sure to visit with a Passport Health travel medicine specialist to discuss your need for the rabies vaccine.
Rabies is found in every continent except Antarctica and canine rabies is highly endemic in rural areas in many countries around the world including and not limited to: India, China, Bangladesh, Peru, Brazil, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, Vietnam, Mexico, Colombia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Yemen, Ecuador and Indonesia.
Veterinarians and animal control/wildlife workers should receive a pre-rabies exposure course if they are traveling to areas of low endemicity. Travelers to endemic areas who plan to spend extensive time outdoors should also receive the pre-rabies exposure vaccine.
If you plan on receiving the rabies vaccine you will need booster shots. The rabies vaccine is only effective if you have received all subsequent boosters (two for pre-exposure, three for post). If you are planning a trip and would like the pre-exposure rabies vaccine, be sure to schedule your appointment at least 28 days before you leave, as it will take at least 28 days to receive all boosters. The vaccine is only active for two years, meaning you will need another series of rabies shots if you plan on making a similar trip two years from now.
So, if you are asking yourself, "What travel shots and vaccinations do I need?" or "Where do I get the rabies vaccine?" schedule an appointment with your local Passport Health travel medicine clinic.
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