Rabies and other lyssaviruses are a risk for travellers to many parts of the world. Talk to your doctor about pre-travel rabies vaccination
at least 1 month before departure. Avoid contact with all wild and domestic animals while travelling, and seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are bitten or scratched by a bat or other land animal.
Rabies risk varies depending on where you are travelling and what activities are planned while abroad. The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) maintains a
list of rabies risk in land dwelling animals by country. Generally, the risk is highest in developing countries across Asia (including the island of Bali in Indonesia), Africa and Central and South America; however, animals in developed countries have the potential to be infected and spread rabies.
Regardless of your destination, you should take the following measures to reduce your and your family’s risk of contracting rabies:
Even if previously vaccinated, if you are bitten or scratched by a bat anywhere or by a land dwelling mammal overseas, you should:
If exposure occurs while abroad, wherever possible you should seek treatment as soon as possible in that country. Rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) may be difficult to obtain in some countries but vaccine is usually available.
If you do receive treatment while abroad, you should ask for a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) certificate, and obtain the following details (preferably in English), including the:
Upon returning to Australia, you should see a doctor to reassess the risk and complete the course of treatment where required. In NSW, your local public health unit will work with your doctor to assess your risk, and where indicated, will arrange for rabies vaccines and immunoglobulin to be delivered to your GP or hospital.
If the animal or bat can be observed or tested without placing other people at risk, health authorities may decide to delay your treatment for a short period of time. If it is found that the animal is not a rabies risk, the course of vaccinations will not be required and can be ceased.
For further information contact your local public health unit on
1300 066 055.