Getting vaccinated

What you should know


What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease of animals which may be transmitted to humans through bites from the saliva of the infected animals, usually dogs, cats or monkeys. In humans, the disease is almost 100% fatal.

Travellers should assume all mammals are rabies carriers, especially in the high endemic areas, like South East Asia, Mexico, Central and South America and Africa.

The symptoms typically start 2–8 weeks after the bite (it can be as long as 10 years). Symptoms include fever, headache, vague sensations at the bite site, weakness, paralysis, spasm of swallowing muscles, delirium, and convulsion. Death often occurs in less than a week due to paralysis of breathing.

There is no cure of the disease. Prevention through immunisation and suitable rabies vaccination however, is very effective.


Pre-exposure vaccination is typically offered to people with occupational risk (e.g. Vet or livestock worker). Travellers to endemic areas for longer periods of time or engaging in high risk activities (e.g. trekking, cycling or caving) should also be immunised. Discuss your need for a rabies injection with your Travel doctor prior to your departure.

What to do after animal bites

Travellers suffering from bites or scratches from possible infected animals should seek medical advice. The wound should be thoroughly cleansed with soap and water, followed by application of an antiseptic. Post-exposure rabies vaccination with 5 vaccine doses plus Rabies Immunoglobulin should also be considered. Local health authorities should be able to give you the appropriate advice.

*This information is to be used as a guide only. Medical advice is recommended to individuals depending on their medical history, previous vaccination history and their itinerary.