Rabies Around the World

Rabies is found on all continents except Antarctica. In certain areas of the world, including but not limited to parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, rabies in dogs is still a major problem and as a result tens of thousands of people die of the disease each year.

When traveling, it is always prudent to avoid approaching any wild or domestic animals. In addition, in some areas access to post-exposure treatment may be hard to get. Street dogs represent the most frequent risk for bite exposure to travelers, followed by monkeys. Monkey bites should also be assessed for the possibility of herpes B transmission, a virus that is often fatal in humans.

Consult Your Doctor

Before traveling abroad, consult your doctor or a travel clinic about your risk of exposure to rabies and how to handle an exposure should it arise. For travel immunization clinics, please contact your local pharmacy clinic to see if they offer the vaccinations you need.

Rabies Pre-Exposure Vaccination

If traveling to a country where there is a high incidence of rabies, especially in canine populations, rabies pre-exposure vaccination may be recommended. Rabies vaccination should also be considered if you will be spending lots of time outdoors in rural areas or plan to handle animals.

Pre-exposure immunization does not eliminate the need for additional medical attention after a rabies exposure, but it greatly simplifies postexposure prophylaxis and eliminates need for rabies immune globulin, which is unavailable or difficult to obtain in most developing countries. Postexposure prophylaxis, including HRIG, should be initiated after a possible bite exposure even if there has been a considerable delay between the exposure and the traveler presenting for evaluation.

Additional Information

For more specific information about rabies in different geographical areas please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel page.