NHS Service

Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies isn’t as common as it used to be, but it’s still a serious disease that can be found all over the world. The rabies virus is almost always transferred to humans through the bite of an infected animal. The animals most likely to have the virus are dogs, bats, raccoons, foxes, and cats. Very few infections occur in the UK, although people who regularly interact with bats are thought to be at risk.

Most infections occur overseas so if you’re going to be travelling or working in an area where rabies is more prevalent, you need to take precautions to protect yourself. Rabies can’t be cured and causes serious neurological damage. Once a person starts showing symptoms, the infection usually results in death.

What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?

The early symptoms of rabies are similar to the flu and may last several days. Once the disease progresses, later symptoms of signs and rabies include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis

Neurological symptoms will also develop. As the disease progresses, a person infected with rabies will start to become anxious, agitated, and confused. They may become fearful of water and of air being blown on their face. Hallucinations are also very common.

Do I Need the Rabies Vaccine?

It’s estimated that nearly 60,000 people die each year from rabies, although this number may be underreported. Cases occur in over 150 countries, but 95% of them happen in Asia and Africa. India accounts for about two third of annual cases and one-third of deaths. If you’ll be travelling in these regions, you should get the effective rabies vaccine.

Your risk increases if you’ll be:

  • Staying a month or more in an area where rabies is found
  • In a place with limited medical care
  • Participating in outdoor activities
  • Working with animals or wild animals

The rabies vaccine requires three doses that are given over the course of 28 days. Once you’ve received all three doses, you’ll have lifelong protection against rabies. A booster shot may be required if you’ll be at high risk of infection.

Touchwood Pharmacy can help you with any required or recommended vaccinations you’ll need before your travels. Book an appointment to meet with one of our specialists who can give you comprehensive advice and recommendations.