Rabies is a very serious infection that you can catch if you have not been vaccinated and you are bitten by an infected animal. It’s an infection that requires immediate treatment. If you do not receive treatment straight away, a rabies infection is almost certain to prove fatal. Rabies vaccinations are just one of the many travel vaccines that we offer here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall here in the heart of London.
It’s not just animal bites that can carry the rabies virus. If you are scratched by an animal and your skin is broken or you a licked on the mouth or eye, or an open wound; or even spat on by an infected animal; if the virus enters your bloodstream you will be in mortal danger. It targets the central nervous system and once there, it multiples and affects all you body organs
Rabies in the UK & Worldwide
In the UK, rabies has, by and large, been eliminated. The last reported case was in 2012, and the unfortunate victim (who died) was bitten by a dog while visiting India. There is however one species of bat here in the UK that carries a rabies-like virus, although it is extremely unlikely that this can be passed on to other animals or humans. To be on the safe though, if you ever do come across an injured bat, you should leave it well alone, and instead, call the Bat Conservation Trust helpline on 0845 130 0228.
Worldwide, rabies is still a major health concern, and it claims approximately 55,000 deaths per year. The majority of cases of rabies are centred in the developing world; in Africa and Asia.
Even though the chances of acquiring a rabies infection from an infected animal here in the UK are extremely remote, given the infection’s almost 100% mortality rate, you should immediately seek medical help if you are bitten by any sort of animal, especially if that animal is unknown to you.
When to have a rabies vaccination
As the chances of acquiring a rabies infection in the UK are so remote, there is no immunisation program in place. Strict border controls introduced back in the early 20th century, and the new pets’ passport initiatives, serve to keep things that way. But if you are due to travel to a country where the chances of being bitten by a rabies infected animal, or coming into contact with an infected animal’s stools are at all possible, you owe it to yourself to get immunised. If you live and/or work here in London, you can fulfil that obligation by popping into to Broadgate Clinic London Wall, and getting yourself vaccinated.
For a list of countries where there is a risk of rabies infection, go to the “Rabies risks in terrestrial animals by country” webpage on the gov.uk website.
Who should have the rabies vaccination?
The people deemed to be most at risk, and who would therefore benefit from rabies immunisation include:
• Lab workers who may be required to handle sample of the rabies virus
• Anyone who has to handle bats
• Anyone journeying to somewhere they intend to stay for a month or more, where rabies is common in animals
• Anyone journeying to a country where rabies is common, and where their job description or the leisure activities they pursue could being them in to contact with rabies infected animals
The rabies vaccination
Despite some “old wives’ tales” you might come across, the rabies vaccination is not traumatic or painful. There are two vaccines available, both of which are available from the walk-in travel clinic here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall. The travel vaccines are injected into the upper arm, are pain free, and generally have no side effects. For complete protection, the rabies vaccination is administered in 3 courses, the last of which should be completed 7 days before your travel departure date.
Mild side effects experienced on occasion
Some people are known to suffer some mild side-effects from the rabies vaccination. They can include:
• A slight fever
• A mild headache
• Slight muscle ache
• Slight nausea and possible vomiting
As a general rule, pregnant women are advised to avoid the rabies vaccination, but for individual, specific advice, you can talk to one of our travel clinic professionals here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall.