Lethal bugs which infects travellers who are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. Rabies is deadly unless it’s treated straight away, so travellers in high-risk countries should get help immediately if they are bitten or scratched.

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Key fact

Once symptoms are present, rabies is almost always fatal.1 So prevention and early treatment are crucial.


  • How do people catch these disease?

    Being bitten or scratched by infected animals such as dogs, bats or monkeys.2 The rabies virus is found in saliva.

  • Which countries are affected?

    Rabies occurs in most countries in the world but some countries, particularly Africa and Asia, are high-risk areas (see map)3.

  • What are the symptoms?

    Fever, headache, feeling unwell, pain at the site of the wound.2

  • How serious is the disease?

    If rabies symptoms develop, the disease cannot be treated and is generally fatal.2

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip4
    • Avoid contact with animals that may bite
    • If you are bitten or scratched, the wound should be thoroughly cleaned and treated with a disinfectant.2,4 Seek medical help immediately.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/rabies (Last accessed May 2018)
  2. World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. WHO Position Paper on Rabies. August 2010. Available online: http://www.who.int/wer/2010/wer8532.pdf
    (Last accessed May 2018)
  3. World Health Organization. Rabies, countries or areas at risk. 2013. Available online: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_Rabies_ITHRiskMap.png
    (Last accessed May 2018)
  4. Zentrum für Reisemedizin. Tollwut. Available online: http://www.reisemed.at/krankheiten/tollwut (Last accessed on May 2018)
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