Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. It’s been many years since this disease was eradicated from Europe but now that British holidaymakers are travelling further than ever for their dose of winter sun, what precautions should we be taking?
Rabies is common in Asia and Africa with an estimated 31,000 deaths annually in Asia alone according to the WHO. Only this month a UK resident sadly died following a bite from a rabid cat in Morocco, a very popular winter sun destination for Brits.
Rabies is spread to people through bites and scratches but can also be transmitted through licks on broken skin. Holidaymakers should be wary of approaching animals such as monkeys, cats, and dogs in countries where rabies is present. Children, in particular, may be most vulnerable on holiday as they may not appreciate the potential dangers in stray cats and dogs which occasionally find their way into the grounds of hotels and apartment complexes searching for food.
If you do come into contact with an animal while on holiday abroad, in a country where rabies is not fully eradicated, you should seek immediate medical attention. It is good practice before setting off on holiday to check the foreign travel advice website for up-to-date information for your destination and take extra care around animals if rabies is mentioned as a risk. You may also find theguidance of rabies risks in terrestrial animals by country helpful, as it has an A to Z list of countries and their current rabies risk categorisation.
When travelling abroad, the most important element on your pre-holiday “to do” list will be to ensure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance. All holidaymakers hope that their holiday will be trouble free, and for the vast majority it is, however spending a few pounds to ensure you receive assistance should things go wrong, is a few pounds well spent.