Infectious agent: Rabies virus

Main symptom(s): progressive, fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Where is it most commonly found?

Rabies is common in developing countries, such as in Africa, Asia and South America.

How are you likely to catch the disease?

People usually catch it after being bitten or scratched by an infected animal (primarily dogs and bats). An animal does not need to be appear ill to be in infected.

Who needs to be vaccinated?

If you’re staying for a month or more to an area where rabies is endemic (commonly present). You may also need a rabies vaccine if there’s a chance you may be exposed to rabies due to your activities, for example if you’re working with wild or domestic animals that may be infected or are in an area where rabies is endemic.

How is the vaccination given?

Three injections, with the second a week (7 days) after the first, and the third after another three weeks (28 days after the first).

How long will the vaccination protect you for?

Having the rabies vaccine doesn't mean you're immune to the disease. However, if you are vaccinated, managing your treatment if you’re exposed to rabies will be simpler. You may need a booster every 2 years if you’re still at risk.

Other protective measures you can take

Wound cleansing and immunisation within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal.

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