Rabies vaccination evaluate your risk

28 September 2013 ,  —


On World Rabies Day, International SOS calls for travellers and expatriates, and their medical advisors, to assess the risk of rabies exposure posed by individual travel itineraries and consider rabies vaccination if appropriate.


Rabies is almost always fatal and can be contracted from a bite, scratch or lick by an infected animal. Children are at particular risk as they may not report such animal contact.

If you have had not been vaccinated and are exposed to rabies, you will need vaccination urgently. While this vaccination is available in most cities, it is often not available in more remote areas. This means you may need to travel significant distances, quickly, to receive the vaccination, sometimes even to another country. 
To reduce this stressful – and potentially dangerous – scenario, pre-travel rabies vaccination should be considered for travellers and expatriates who will be at a higher risk of rabies exposure or travelling to areas where rabies vaccination may not be available.

International SOS is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company, serving members in 76 countries around the world. Last year, International SOS helped over 200 people who had contact with a dog or other animal and potential exposure to rabies.  Over 90% of these cases originated in either South East Asia or India.

Dr Jonathan O’Keefe, Medical Director at International SOS, said:
“Many business travellers and expatriates do not think about pre-travel rabies vaccine. Many do not realise that the vaccine is not universally available and that urgent travel, sometimes international, may be needed to obtain the vaccination following possible exposure to rabies.”

Key Rabies facts for travellers:
Despite rabies being 100% preventable in humans, it causes over 55,000 deaths a year
Rabies occurs in over 150 countries and territories
40% of risky bites occur in children under 15 years of age
Pre-travel vaccination reduces the profound worry associated with an unvaccinated exposure
If you have had pre-travel vaccination and you are exposed to rabies, you still require some rabies shots, but less urgently
Rabies vaccination is particularly important for:
Travel to areas with a high risk of rabies
Travel to areas where rabies vaccination may not be readily available
Young children, who may not inform their parents if they have been bitten

Rabies - a global disease:

The nature of global business today means organisations are venturing into new environments, with people exposed to different risks.  Many countries have limited levels of health care infrastructure and people may be exposed to threats that are beyond their usual day-to-day experience.  Rabies exposure is one such threat.

Dr O’Keefe continued:
“As businesses continue to expand in Africa we expect to see a rise in cases from this part of the world.  Interestingly we also saw 20 cases of potential rabies exposure originate in the USA: Very few parts of the world are rabies free. Of course vaccination is readily available in the USA."

Fortunately none of the travellers we advised developed rabies, but many had sleepless nights worrying about the possibility of contracting an illness that, untreated, is 100% fatal. It is important to remember that rabies is entirely preventable with a course of vaccinations.


Notes to Editors

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.


Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by 12,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 12,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.   

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