Do You Need Vaccinations Before Traveling Abroad?
Some examples of vaccines that may be recommended for international travelers
(remember you may need more, fewer, or different vaccinations, depending on your
individual circumstances) include the following:
- Rabies: Rabies virus is
endemic in dogs in many countries throughout the world, including, but not
limited to, parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, China, the Philippines, Sri
Lanka, and Indonesia.
Quick GuideTravel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad
- In the U.S., one or two people die from rabies each year.
- Animal vaccinations and postexposure prophylaxis protocols have nearly eradicated rabies in the U.S.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral illness spread via the saliva of an infected animal. This
occurs usually through biting a human or another animal. Transmission can also
occur through saliva touching an open wound or touching mucous membranes.
What causes rabies?
Rabies is caused by the rabies virus. The virus infects the brain and
ultimately leads to death. After being bitten by a rabid animal, the virus is
deposited in the muscle and subcutaneous tissue. For most of the incubation
period (which is usually one to three months), the virus stays close to the exposure
site. The virus then travels via peripheral nerves to the brain and from there,
again via peripheral nerves, to nearly all parts of the body.
Any mammal can spread rabies. In the United States, rabies is most often transmitted via the saliva of bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. In the developing world, stray dogs are
the most likely animal to transmit rabies. The virus has also been found in cows, cats, ferrets, and horses.
The local health department will usually have information on which animals
in the area have been found to carry the rabies virus.
What are risk factors for rabies?
Any activity that brings someone in contact with possible rabid animals, such as
traveling in an area where rabies is more common (Africa and Southeast Asia)
as well as outdoor activities near bats and other possible rabid animals, all
increase one's risk of getting infected with rabies.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2016