WHO Rabies - Bulletin - Europe
Rabies Information System of the
WHO Collaboration Centre for Rabies Surveillance and Research
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Recommendations for travelers

Rabies and other lyssavirus mediated rabies-like diseases have a worldwide occurrence. More than 99.9 % of human deaths from rabies reported worldwide result from the bite of a rabid dog. Therefore, travellers should be aware of the risk of acquiring rabies when travelling to rabies-endemic countries.

Pre-exposure rabies prophylactic treatment (rabies vaccination) is not a general requirement for travel to any country. Based on the local incidence of rabies in the country to be visited, the availability of appropriate antirabies biologicals, and the intended activity and duration of stay rabies vaccination may be recommended for international travellers.

Travellers with extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as people engaging in certain occupational activities (veterinarians, animal workers, etc) or tourists with activities like trekking, bicycling, camping, hiking, etc might be at high risk in rabies-endemic regions even if their trip is brief.

Pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for additional medical attention after a rabies exposure but simplifies post-exposure prophylaxis in populations at risk by eliminating the need for rabies immune globulin (RIG) and by decreasing the number of doses of vaccine required.

Any animal bite or scratch should receive prompt local treatment by thorough cleansing of the wound with soap and water and a povidone-iodine solution if available; this local treatment will substantially reduce the risk of rabies. Travellers who might have been exposed to rabies should always contact local health authorities of the respective country immediately for advice about post-exposure prophylaxis and vaccine availability and should also contact their personal physician or public health department at home as soon as possible thereafter.

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