The risk of rabies is still widely unknown to the general public.
If caught and symptoms develop, rabies is almost invariably fatal.
Rabies is spread through the saliva of an infected animal and is present in over 150 countries worldwide. Up to 100 children die each day from rabies, and more than 55,000 people a year are killed from the disease, mainly in Asia and Africa.
If bitten or scratched by an infected animal you need to act quickly. Even with pre-travel vaccinations, a course of post-exposure vaccinations are required to prevent disease. If you haven’t had pre-travel vaccinations, the treatment is much more intense. If treatment is given correctly and promptly after exposure, then rabies can be cured but once symptoms develop, it is too late.
Some countries are deemed high-risk of rabies.
Considering this, it’s alarming when we experience resistance from travellers who feel this vaccination isn’t necessary for travel, especially if they are visiting a high risk location.
We feel so passionately that if you are travelling somewhere with a known risks of rabies it only seems sensible to protect yourself against it. Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease, so make sure you get vaccinated before you travel.
For more information on rabies and travel health, visit our rabies page here.
The Fleet Street Clinic is passionate about travel. We have provided rabies vaccinations for over 20 years. Our team of expert travel medical professionals provide advice and detailed consultations to ensure you have a healthy trip.
Public Health England has issued a health warning aimed at travellers highlighting the risk of rabies.
Following the recent news whereby a UK resident sadly died after becoming infected with rabies following a cat bite during a visit to Morocco, there is need to remind travellers of the dangers of viral infections when outside of the UK.
Rabies is a virus infection of the brain which is usually transmitted from contact with an infected animal, through injuries such as bites and scratches.
Dogs are the main source of infection in most parts of the world, although almost any mammal can become infected.
Although not a concern in the UK, PHE highlights the dangers of animals whilst travelling:
‘Rabies is common in other parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. All travellers to rabies-affected countries should avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel.’
When visiting countries with rabies endemic it is best to avoid contact with animals especially stray or wild animals.
People are usually infected following a deep bite or scratch from an animal with rabies, and transmission to humans by rabid dogs accounts for 99% of cases.
The virus cannot infiltrate intact skin.
Initial symptoms of rabies include a fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation (paraesthesia) at the wound site. As the virus spreads to the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.
What to do if bitten?
If a traveller has been bitten or licked, they should immediately wash the wound with soap and water as soon as they can. That will inactivate and wash out a lot of the virus (if there is virus present), and urgently seek medical care.
Once symptoms have developed, left untreated rabies is almost always fatal. Rabies is a 100% vaccine-preventable disease.
You should consider getting vaccinated against rabies if you are travelling to a country which is considered high-risk especially if you’re planning on travelling to more remote locations.
Rabies vaccination requires a course of 3 vaccinations for complete protection. Depending on how much time you have prior to travelling would determine which course of treatment is suitable for you.
Alternatively, those with time constraints can opt for the accelerated rabies vaccination course.
The accelerated option can be provided over 7 days; giving full protection within a week.
This option is suitable for spontaneous travellers and last-minute business trips to countries affected by rabies.
All travellers who think they have been exposed to the rabies virus should urgently seek medical care and post-exposure vaccinations.
- If you’ve had your immunisations, you will require two doses of rabies vaccination, 3 days apart.
- If you are exposed to rabies and have not been vaccinated, a more intensive treatment of 5 vaccinations over a 30-day period, plus an injection of immunoglobulin is required.
Overall travellers should take precautions when travelling to countries where rabies is present.
Rabies: The Facts by The World Health Organisation
For more information on the risk of rabies in different countries, see the country information pages on the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s (NaTHNaC’s) website, TravelHealthPro.
November is an optimum time of year to travel to Mexico. Uncrowded beaches with cheaper hotels and air travel are all perks for those who want an affordable and relaxing trip.
Summer in Mexico can be too hot for some, with highs of 32 degrees. Whereas, Winter temperatures are much more comfortable, with highs of 24 degrees instead. Hurricane season has also finished, the rain has let up and the crowds that appear later in December are yet to arrive.
Many prefer a winter visit.
Dia de Los Muertos is Mexico’s most colourful and festive holiday; celebrated from October 31 to November 2. ‘Day of the Dead’ is an incredible expression of Mexico’s religious syncretism and a tradition that dates back centuries. It celebrates and honours friends and relatives who have died. Festivities take place in Central and Southern Mexico with elaborately decorated home altars, parades, parties and nighttime visits to the gravestones of loved ones. Expect many candles, flamboyantly decorated skull-shaped masks and music.
Be warned of mad dogs, wild cats and blood-sucking bats…
Mexico has a high risk of rabies which is a fatal disease if left untreated. The rabies infection is spread through a bite, scratch or lick of an infected animal. You should avoid contact with feral animals or wildlife at all costs. Try to anticipate an animal’s actions and always be careful not to make sudden movements or surprise them.
Travellers can minimise the risk by receiving a rabies vaccination prior to travel. As rabies is a fairly common traveller’s risk, we try to make this particular vaccine affordable for all travellers. You can proactively minimise your risk of contracting rabies, putting your mind a ease for your holiday.
If you suspect you’ve been bitten by an animal with rabies, even after having the rabies vaccine, you should seek medical care immediately.
Banish the bugs
Apart from causing an itchy and painful bite, Mexican mosquitoes can spread viruses such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus. It is advised to use an insect repellent containing 50% DEET, wear long loose clothing, and take a plug-in vaporiser. We have an Ultimate Bug Kit available to order online. All of these will ensure your room stays mosquito free and you, bite free!
The Zika virus is of particular concern to those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Specialist advice should be sought before travel. Our Central London clinic offers Zika Virus testing. Our expert team will give you clear, practical advice on the right test for your individual circumstance. Following the test, we can help you interpret the results and assist in planning your next step towards starting a family.
Don’t get the day of the dead diarrhoea
While Mexican food is delicious, travellers should apply some necessary precautions to prevent picking up stomach bugs which could ruin your holidays. We recommend that travellers avoid tap water and ice in their drinks. It’s advisable to stick to bottled water only as this reduces your risk. Also, do ensure your food is cooked through and served hot. To help get prepared, we recommend purchasing one of our Worldwide Gastro Kits.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which is spread via contaminated food and water. Washing your hands regularly, especially after using the toilet can stop the spread of Hepatitis A. A sensible tip would be to take some alcohol hand gel with you to clean your hands before eating. Make sure you have received a vaccination against Hepatitis A before departure.
There are many celebrations throughout the year in Mexico, such as ‘Revolution Day’ on November 20th. Large crowds will gather to celebrate the 1910 revolution anniversary. This is a unique celebration for a tourist to experience but unfortunately, large crowds increase your risk of catching and spreading germs.
Factors that can increase the risk of getting sick at a mass gathering include the number of people in attendance, the type of venue, the type of infections people carry into it and also how people interact with each other.
The Flu can spread rapidly as the bacteria and viruses can easily be passed from one person to the other by a simple cough or sneeze. The best way to prevent flu is to get your flu jab before departure.
Don’t let your health ruin your holiday to Mexico.
You should take what are reasonable, practical, prevention steps to stay well and enjoy your trip to Mexico.
By Anna Chapman | Travel Nurse | October 2018