Vaccinations & travel medicine

What is rabies?

Rabies is a severe viral infection of the central nervous system that is almost invariably fatal. You can become infected through the saliva of infected animals (especially dogs, foxes, bats, cats). Whenever viruses get into the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth by licking injured skin, biting or scratching animals or when the animal's saliva gets into the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth through unwashed hands. The infection leads to seizures, aggressive behaviour, coma and death by respiratory paralysis in humans and animals. The disease often begins months, sometimes even years, after contact with the virus.

Who should be vaccinated against rabies?

If you are planning a trip to countries with a high risk of rabies (especially Asia and Africa), especially in case of long-term stays (more than 4 weeks), insufficient local medical care, a lack of modern vaccines and immunoglobulin, a prophylactic vaccination is recommended. However, simple travel or residence conditions or activities with increased risk of exposure (e.g. bicycle or motorbike tours) as well as predictable contact with mammals, incl. bats, also require such vaccination as prevention.

Infants and children in particular should be vaccinated generously, as they like to have contact with animals and at the same time may not always (be able to) report risky contacts.

How and when is the rabies vaccination carried out and what must be observed?

The rabies vaccination is an inactivated vaccine and is given into the muscle. The preventive vaccination consists of three injections into the upper arm muscle on days 0, 7 and 21 (or 28) for adults and children. There is also a rapid vaccination schedule, should you be planning to travel soon. For long-term protection, a booster vaccination should be given after one year, then depending on the risk of exposure.

Important: After contact with an animal suspected of being rabid, everyone must be vaccinated. If you have already received some vaccinations, the risk is lower and you will receive fewer booster shots.

Should I get vaccinated against rabies?

To find out which vaccinations are useful for your planned trip, simply make an appointment for a travel medicine consultation at one of our Avi Medical surgeries and talk to our team of doctors. The team will tell you what you should consider so that you can travel safely and relaxed on your next trip.