Skip to content

Rabies Vaccinations

About Rabies

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease spread primarily by contact through the saliva of rabies-infected wild or domestic animals, by a bite, scratch or lick to an open wound. If animal saliva gets into your eyes, mouth or nose this is also a risk.

Once symptoms appear, the disease is almost universally fatal, making prevention crucial. Rabies can be prevented by avoiding contact with animals and seeking prompt medical attention if in contact with saliva from a rabies-infected wild or domestic animal.

Currently, there is a national shortage of the pre-exposure rabies vaccine and our stock supplies vary week to week – IN STOCK SINCE 08 APRIL 2024.

Rabies is found throughout the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. It is important to consider practical advice to ensure healthy travel to rabies-risk areas. You can check the risks of a country you are travelling to on the TravelHealthPro website.

Advice for travellers

While you are travelling

  • Do not touch or go near wild or stray animals, even if they do not seem unwell (animals with rabies may not have any symptoms).
  • Do not feed any animals, including in zoos or animal sanctuaries.
  • If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any animal, or if you find a bat in your bedroom (you may have been bitten while you slept, bat bites do not always leave an obvious mark):
    • Immediately wash and thoroughly flush the area with soap and lots of water
    • Get urgent medical help abroad – do not wait until you return to the UK. Even if you have had rabies vaccine before travelling, it is still important to seek medical advice promptly
    • If advised, start the rabies post-exposure treatment abroad and do not wait until you get back to the UK.

On your return

  • You should contact your GP on return to the UK, even if you received treatment abroad or the exposure happened several weeks ago. You may need to continue a course of rabies vaccines. If you have a record of any treatment given, remember to take that with you to your appointment.

Further Information

Symptoms of Rabies

Without treatment, the symptoms of rabies will usually start after 3 to 12 weeks, although they can start sooner or much later than this.

The first symptoms can include:

  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Feeling anxious or generally unwell
  • Possible discomfort at the site of the bite.

Other symptoms start a few days later, such as:

  • Confusion or aggressive behaviour
  • Hallucinations
  • Producing lots of saliva or frothing at the mouth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing
  • An inability to move (paralysis).

Prevention

All mammals can carry rabies. Animals usually spread the infection if they bite or scratch you. Contact with wild or domestic animals should be avoided. Travellers should also be advised:

  • Not to approach animals
  • Avoid touching any dead animals
  • Be aware that certain activities may attract dogs (e.g. running, cycling).

Treatment

Rabies is preventable if the correct post-exposure treatment (PET) is provided quickly.

If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal in an area with a risk of rabies:-

  • Clean the wound immediately with running water and soap for several minutes
  • Disinfect the wound with an alcohol- or iodine-based disinfectant and apply a simple dressing
  • Visit the nearest medical centre, hospital or GP surgery as soon as possible and explain that you have been bitten or scratched.

Rabies Vaccinations

You should consider being vaccinated against rabies if you are travelling to an area of the world where rabies is common and:-

  • You plan to stay for a month or more, or you do not have quick access to appropriate medical care
  • You plan to do activities that could put you at increased risk of exposure to animals with rabies, such as running or cycling

Individuals considered at risk of exposure to rabies viruses within the UK include:-

  • Laboratory workers routinely handling rabies virus
  • Workers at Defra-authorised quarantine premises and carriers
  • Bat handlers who regularly handle bats, including on a voluntary basis, in the UK
  • Veterinary and technical staff who due to their employment maybe at increased rabies risk

Rabies Vaccinations

3 doses over a period of 28 days.