Key facts about Rabies:

Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the brain that is passed from animals to humans. Unfortunately there is no cure for rabies once the disease has developed and virtually all those infected will die.

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease, which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. The infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa.

40% of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children less than 15 years of age.

Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths however, other mammals include cats, bats, and monkeys have also been known to transmit the disease.

Immediate wound cleansing and immunisation within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal can prevent the onset of rabies and death.

Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-exposure vaccination to prevent rabies, which is estimated to have prevented many deaths annually.

Pre-exposure immunisation is also available.

The Vaccination Schedule:

  1. How many vaccinations are needed? 

3 vaccinations are required to complete the course and ensure full protection

  1. What is the time between shots

First Shot: DAY 0

Second Shot: DAY 7

Third Shot: DAY 21 OR 28

  1. How long is the immunity of this vaccination

Unless continually at risk due to the environment in which a person may be living; the above mentioned Rabies course is sufficient. No boosters are required.

  1. How long In Advance if travel is such a vaccination needed to provide immunity for patients who have not had the rabies vaccine?

It is advised that a rabies course be completed before any travel commences.

Preventive immunisation

Safe, effective vaccines can be used for pre-exposure immunisation. This is recommended for travellers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking as well as for long-term travellers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure.

As children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites, their immunisation should be considered if living in or visiting high risk areas.

Source: WHO.

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