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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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  #1  
Old 9 Mar 2010
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Rabies

I'm just wondering how many people out there, travelling, have had a Rabies jab. I've done a lot of travelling and living overseas and have never even considered a Rabies jab. I'm careful about Malaria and certainly don't fall into the camp of the those who don't take anything but Garlic pills. However, just recently I've heard several people talk about taking Rabies jabs.

I know, ultimately. it's down to personal choice, where I'm travelling and whether I'm going to pat every cat and dog I see. I'm just interested in whether "the average" traveller has a Rabies jab or not.
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Old 9 Mar 2010
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I got the rabies jab because I would be hopefully doing work with animals where I could.

The jab itself was pretty much the same as all the other jabs I had in the arm, it also does not prevent you from gettng rabies just gives you a little extra time to get to a doctors to get treated.

If i remember rightly its one of those that you have time with the others so they dont cause issues for each other and was over a course of a few months, 1 injection every 3-4 weeks and 3 in total, the stuff I got was called rabipur.

Rabipur is also used when you have been bitten by a rabid animal or suspected animal and i think its the same dosage at 3-4 weeks and around 5 injections total.

You can buy the stuff online its around 22 quid plus prescription cost per injection in the UK, so 80 quid for the preventative course and a bit more if you were to carry it yourself[really no need most countries with rabies problems will have it available].

As far as I am aware there has been loads of posts about people being chased by mad dogs on bikes and with their gear very few have actually had a nasty bite, however if you are an animal lover and think you will be attempting to pet every animal you come accross[I wouldnt even do this in a non rabies country] then I would be more worried about fleas, lice,ticks, ringworm and infections through bites than rabies. In the UK only those working with animals actually get the pre treatment, zoo people, vets and customs guys.

I would read up on the course of the disease and not bother with the injections.

Garlic may also work as lets face it its only use is to prevent animals from biting you because of the smell disguising your smell, either on your breath or if you apply it to your skin, we used it with horses to keep midges and horseflys away and it works to some degree but you would have to have a bath in a vat of the stuff on a daily basis to be sure. And then pray you dont meet a garlic loving carnivore as my dog loves the stuff on his steak.
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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Having looked up what Rabies can do to you I had the jabs. It does only give you time, but if you have been bitten somewhere remote, time is what you need. If you're only a short ride from suitable medical care then maybe not worth it if funds are tight, but it is a nasty thing if you get it.
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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Yeah, I got it done for the trip through Africa. I don't think it was super necessary, but I was getting tonnes of other jabs anyway and the doctor suggested I just throw it in the mix. From memory, it was quite cheap too.

Like pictish said, 3 jabs about a month apart each time. They are into the skin though (as apposed to muscle), so can cause a mosquito bite like reaction. The vaccine works 97% of the time, so I was adviced to get a blood test after my course to see if it worked.

As mentioned above, you still need treatment if you contract the disease. But the main advantage of having been 'vaccinated' is that you don't need the normal rabies medicine after being bitten. Normally you have to get a live culture jab after being bitten, then get some normal jabs as follow up. The live culture is much harder to come by, especially in remote areas, so it's better if you don't need it. But yeah, keep in mind YOU STILL HAVE TO GET MEDICINE AFTER BEING BITTEN EVEN WITH THE VACCINE. Rabies has a 100% mortality rate once the symptoms show, so don't take this stuff lightly.
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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good idea to get jab.

ever since leaving on our trip 7 years ago Simon and I have made sure our rabies jabs are up to date....
being on a motorbike you are 'game' for every dog in the world to chase you...and they do! but as we all know its not just the dogs that you have to be worried about.
and if you are out in more remote areas you need the time that this jab give you as kuntushi mentioned.

if possible get these series of jabs before leaving.
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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I got it done for South America. It's not only dogs that carry it.. Rats, bats etc !!

I think I was ripped off. I think I had three injections at £45 each. I think it's because im in the U.K and rabies was wiped out here many years ago. You can get it MUCH MUCH cheaper in Spain or eastern Europe where it can still be a problem (so I believe)

Like said, they only buy you time....

Does anyone know if you need a booster ????? . I had mine in Nov 2007 and im going to Africa in Sept this year !!
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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Hi tedmagnum

I will check with the nurse tomorrow on that when i go to get dressing changed as information appears to vary, as far as I am aware its like the hep B injections once you have had the set and produce the antibodies it doesnt need a top up. Although for hep b a booster at 5 years is recommended for healthcare folk, we never got offered the booster for the prison service.
As to the cost other people have also been charged 40-45 quid a shot, at their gp for rabies.
This bunch state every 2 years you need it done and from posts on other travel forums average at 20 quid a shot[london based]
Rabies
they have a pretty good site covering all injections with basic pricing.
I was lucky as I am in a small village and the gp never charged me for the private prescription since I was planning on doing volunteer work and she also knew me quite well from my partners[ex] health issues, that probably saved 25 quid. I am also in scotland where pricing is less than some areas in fact I think it even varies region to region not just country to country in the UK, or even practice to practice.
If you do need it done or any others you might want to get the injections online and get them done at the local surgery as they are often cheaper than going through a normal pharmacy by quite a bit.
I would also get a blood test done at the end of any series of injections to see if they worked as over the last 8 years I have had 1 emergency treatment for hep at emergency ward, 2 fast track courses and 1 normal course of the hep B injections and to date still dont have antibodies present, this is pretty rare but not unheard off.
Compared to the average person my exposure to infection from hep[and pretty much everything else] has been very high and I have gotten away with it, my friend was exposed once giving first aid and died 2 years later from complications. So if you are the kind of person who is willing to give first aid[on people or animals] get one of those belt/pocket kits, they cost 2-3 quid contain gloves apron and ventaid[for mouth to mouth] and mean even if you dont want to carry a full first aid kit around with you, you can still perform the important stuff until one turns up without too much exposure. Double gloving is also pretty common when dealing with a risk.
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Old 11 Mar 2010
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I got those jabs a couple years ago before embarking on a long trip, 2 of them I think, and they were by far the most expensive ones I got. Don´t remember exactly, but 50-70 euros each! But may be you can get them cheaper somewhere else (usually nothing is cheap here!)

Unfortunately the vaccination won´t mean you´re fully protected, just gives you more time, as extra vaccinations needed after a suspicious contact or a bite, may be far away.

It really is a strange situation with the whole thing, because YOU will need to decide, if you have been exposed to the risk of infection, and then go find a place to get the treatment a.s.a.p (I think you must get it within 24 hours).

An example: in Eastern Turkey, we were chased several times by big, mean-looking dogs (fortunately did not get bitten, but it was fully possible). Later on, we started wondering, just where would be the nearest place to get these extra jabs (and I believe you´ll also need immunoglobulin to be put into the bite area)... Ankara was over 1000 kms away by road. We asked a few people, but they had no idea. Do they usually have the capability to give this treatment in small, rural clinics in areas, where rabies is prevalent, or it is more likely that you´ll need to find a major hospital to get it?

There isn´t a lot of time, and you certainly don´t want to mess around with your life, but those are big decisions for a traveler with no medical expertise to make.

And no, I´m not so paranoid about the possibility of an infection as this might sound, I know it is not very common.... I´m just wondering, how do you go about it in real life, if you happen to be far away from everything, and get bitten by a dog or a bat, or get a deep scratch from a monkey? I dont think the animals themselves will always be so apparently sick, even if they have rabies.
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Old 11 Mar 2010
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Someone pointed out in a previous thread about jabs: If there's dangerous rabbid animals about (domestic or otherwise), surely the locals would deal with them?

Chasing dogs:
I always wonder how cyclists deal with them?!
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Old 11 Mar 2010
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Its very hard to deal with any animal that may be infected, as one you have to know its infected and 2 you have to fnd it. Thats why in some western countries if you are attacked by an animal rabies shots are often to follow while they test the animal for infection if its available.
A dog may be easy to catch but trying to locate and find a specific bat, with the description of "its a bat" in 20 miles of jungle may be slightly harder.
The locals in some countries have dealt with it in uk,japan australia it has been eradicated but that was done with a programme of immunisation, but how many dogs in other countries will have had the jabs or even the people, its down to money and rabies probably isnt high on the list when people are dying from plenty of other more common nasties.
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Old 11 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonesome George View Post
I know, ultimately. it's down to personal choice, where I'm travelling and whether I'm going to pat every cat and dog I see. I'm just interested in whether "the average" traveller has a Rabies jab or not.
I haven't...
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Old 11 Mar 2010
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Just back from the surgery the nurse checked the latest info regarding vaccinations[thaty had actually been updating their records for the new system so its the latest info].

Current advice for rabies- after the initial 3 shots only those with high risk and regular contact with rabies infection require a booster after 12 months of initial treatment.

Current advice for hep B- blood test every 5 years to confirm still protected, then 1 booster if not.

Pretty much seams get a bloodtest to check what protection you have from all your vaccinations before you head off certainly if you had the shots a few years ago.

Done a fair bit of looking into rabies now since ive got nothing else to do all day,heres a roundup of some facts taken from world health organisations ect

1/Dogs are the main cause of human infections[99.9%], in wild animals it seams to be anything bigger than a small rodent, mice ect are generally free from rabies. Only mammals carry it.

2/Animals may not show any outward signs of infection but increased aggression is common.

3/ only new zealand is 100% rabies free in the world within wild animal populations.

4/European bat rabies tends not to pass to humans, 4 cases in last 25 years within EU all amongst handlers.

5/ The last few cases in the UK were among people who had been bitten by dogs in other countries apart from a fatal case of a bat handler in scotland and another fatal case of a woman from Ireland who worked with animals in Africa.

6/ Incubation period is 2-8 weeks and even longer before signs show.

7/Barring transplant it does not pass from human to human.

8/there is a treatment for humans once signs of the disease show but its only 10-20% chance of working and even less chance of the person making a full recovery without any lifechanging side effects. Brain damage is common.

9/ 150 people die every day in the world from rabies, on average 100 of those are kids. That is a low estimate and from reported figures only.

10/ In reported deaths India has the highest level, followed by Vietnam and Thailand. It is believed african numbers are upto 100 times lower than what they actually are. SO Africa and Asia are hotspots,Middle East is medium risk, North America, South America[Brazil and Peru were mentioned quite a few times in several sites] are not so bad but still a risk zone. Travelling from the UK rabies issues start at Turkey and then get worse until you hit OZ, or if you head into eastern Europe there is medium risk until you start getting closer to Asia.

11/ The failure to control rabies is causing an increase every year in numbers of infections in third world countries with a knock on effect to those visiting them, this has not only caused issues for humans but animal populations[both domsestic/farm stock and wild] have also suffered . In Asia the recent trend of keeping dogs as pets has also brought about an increase in human infections, China is currently a risk area but the government is taking action such as 1 dog per family rules for some cities.Even in america wild animal populations have seen a spread in rabies so that areas which were free from rabies 25 years ago are now getting reported cases. Skunks and stray dogs appear to be the main animal to watch out for as most states are trying to enforce dogs being vaccinated and several states run a baiting scheme to vaccinate wild animals and stray dogs.

12/ If bitten by a wild animal or pretty much any animal in a risk country wash the site of the bite with soap or any other disinfectant and get to a doctor/hospital as soon as possible. The virus is not really a drop dead within 24 hours kinda virus and takes time to spread to the brain which at that point you are pretty much doomed. The injections before you go will not only help your body fight off the infection in the long run but also give you more time to get further injections.


From everything I have read infection from wild animals is very very rare, So I would not worry too much unless you are trying to handle them. But contact with stray dogs and "pets" should be a cause for concern as it does not take a bite just some slobbering on an open wound or scratch to pass it on. Very sad as yet again it has been proven that we have the means to prevent the spread and even pretty much eradicate rabies within both wild and stray dog populations but it comes down to money. Slightly scary considering current borders within europe are becoming less enforced.
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