Rabies Vaccination Before Travelling


Rabies is almost always transmitted by an animal bite (unless the virus is somehow introduced into an open wound). The incubation period is between one and three months, but it can take several years for the virus to reach the brain and spinal cord, when symptoms appear.

All mammals are susceptible. The dog is the main carrier of the disease. There are two common types of rabies.

Furious rabies. These animals/victims are hostile to anything and everything, including inanimate objects. Infected animals usually produce lots of saliva. The movies show them foaming at the mouth. They don’t, but they do dribble.

Dumb rabies. These animals /victims appear to be quiet, timid and shy. They often reject food and their lower jaw seems to be paralysed.

Rabies Vaccination Before Travelling Photo Gallery

What Are You Telling Your Patients About Rabies

When abroad, you should play safe and avoid all animals. Anyone who thinks they have been exposed to rabies must:

• Remove any clothing that may still be contaminated with saliva from the biting animal, remembering to protect any wound from other infections such as flies and dirt.

• Immediately clean the wound and the surrounding area very thoroughly with soapy water. The more you wash the wound the smaller your chance of infection. Wipe outwards away from the wound – don’t grind any saliva, infection and dirt into the wound.

• Apply a povidone-iodine solution if it is available.

• After thoroughly washing the wound with clean water, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Go to the nearest doctor or hospital immediately.

• Report all bites to the local authorities so that they can deal with the animal.

• As soon as you get back to the UK see your own doctor and report the circumstances of the incident, plus any treatment you had, then ask them to check you over.

Travel vaccination for rabies

Warning signs of rabies in animals. Animals with rabies may appear to act differently to normal healthy animals, and will behave differently depending on whether they have dumb or furious rabies. Some changes you may notice:

• Animals suffer behavioural changes when infected.

• Wild animals may be seen to be moving slowly or acting tame, or seem to be uninterested’ in things and people around them.

• Infected animals may display signs of general sickness before other symptoms appear.

• A pet that is usually friendly may become aggressive and try to bite people or anything nearby.

• Infected animals often have problems swallowing.

• Depending on the type of infection they may produce a lot of saliva or can suffer partial paralysis.

• When an animal or human is infected and showing signs of the disease, it is too late – the result is always death.

Early symptoms of rabies in humans. The symptoms vary but they could include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Sore throat

• Feeling tired.

All of which could just be the early signs of flu – which is why it is important to seek medical advice and treatment after any bite or wound caused by an animal abroad.

Other symptoms of rabies in humans include:

• When the virus reaches the brain, the victim can become nervous, confused and upset.

• Pain or tingling at the site of the bite.

• Possible hallucinations.

• Hydrophobia – a fear of water.

• Paralysis in parts of the body.

As the disease advances, an infected person finally goes into a coma and dies.

There are vaccines, but the victim has to be treated as soon as possible. Without treatment, all victims will die.

Rabies – countermeasures

Avoid animals when you go abroad – any of them could be infected.

Use common sense and don’t go anywhere near an animal that the locals are avoiding.

Avoid any animal that seems to be aggressive or behaving oddly.

Don’t get bitten or scratched by any animal.

• Treat and cover all scratches and cuts, to prevent infection from entering an open wound. if bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical help immediately.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is found in temperate forested regions. It is not found in tropical climates.

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks, which are found in grass, bracken and bushes. The ticks jump onto people walking through the undergrowth and then work their way to a warm moist area. Once there they bite and treat you like a mobile snack bar. Actually the ticks don’t just bite, they hold on to suck your blood over extended periods. By doing so they inject spirochetes’ into you.

Anyone infected with Lyme disease can usually be cured by an appropriate course of antibiotic treatment. If in doubt, seek advice from your doctor or local hospital.

Warning signs of Lyme disease. Infected people display:

• A characteristic expanding rash at the site of the tick bite

• Fever

• Arthritis

• Neurological symptoms, for example facial paralysis.

Lyme disease – countermeasures

✓ Walkers should avoid walking in areas where ticks are known to be common – take local advice,

✓ Wearing long trousers that are tucked into socks, long-sleeved shirts, etc. offers some protection if you have to work or walk in an area where the ticks are present,

Don’t leave bare skin exposed or places where the ticks can get into your clothing. A shirt may be buttoned, but ticks can still get inside the shirt.

✓ Tick repellent used according to instructions on your skin and clothes should deter the ticks.

• Anyone walking in brush, bracken, etc. should regularly stop to check for and remove ticks. It is unlikely that infection will occur in the first 36 hours of tick attachment. Regularly removing them will drastically reduce the risk of infection,

I am told that the way to remove ticks is to touch them with a burning cigarette – if you do, they let go. If you are a non-smoker, avoid trying to hold the tick to pull it off. Pinching the tick tends to squeeze it, injecting the contents of the tick through its own bite into your body. Instead, use the same method that is used to remove a bee sting. Put the thumbnail against the body above the tick Scrape downwards through the tick so that your thumbnail acts as a blade pulling, scraping and removing the tick.

If you discover that you have been providing lunch for any ticks, scrape them off, then take them with you in a sealed container to seek medical advice, or leave them on and get the doctor to remove them – assuming you can get an appointment quite quickly.

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