Rabies is a viral infection spread to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. It is caused by a lyssavirus and is transmitted after an animal bites, scratches, or licks another animal or human. rabies is fatal if left untreated.
The symptoms of rabies generally take a few months to appear, but this can vary from several days to several years. Early symptoms can resemble those of the flu, and include headache, fever, and fatigue. The area of infection should also be monitored, as there may be a tingling or numbness at the bite. Once symptoms appear, the disease attacks the central nervous system and can cause fatal respiratory failure.
There are two pre-exposure vaccinations currently approved for use in Italy: Imomax and RabAvert. Both vaccinations have demonstrated few adverse reactions. Since the rabies vaccination is given in several doses, it is recommended you contact our International Health Passport Travel Clinic at least six weeks prior to departure. Please note that post-exposure care is limited in many parts of the world, so it is important to thoroughly discuss your travels with a healthcare professional.
The rabies vaccine is of particular importance for travellers who may be coming in close contact with animals or those staying in areas with poor access to medical care. This can include veterinarians and animal control workers, spelunkers, hikers, and those intending to camp.
The number one method of preventing rabies is to get vaccinated. We do recommend that once in your destination, you should take precautions around all animals, and not attempt to approach, pick up, pet, or feed unfamiliar wildlife. Children are at particular risk of contracting rabies, since they may not understand the importance of not playing with wild animals.
Rabies is found around the world and can occur in any warm-blooded animal, especially dogs, cats, raccoons, wolves, and bats. According to the World Health Organizations, highest fatalities occur in Asia and Africa, including India, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines. Cases are also frequent in Central and South American countries such as Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador.
If you’re wondering about the rabies vaccination or any other travel medicine vaccinations, contact your our International Health Passport Specialist today.