Travellers cautioned to be wary of Rabies

With winter well and truly here and school holidays just around the corner, West Aussies are flocking to warmer weather and doctors are urging travellers to think more about the deadly and preventable infection – rabies – next time they are abroad.

Rabies is one of the oldest, most feared human infections; once symptoms appear, rabies has the highest fatality rate, virtually 100%, of any known human infection and is something which can be easily avoided.

Dr Aidan Perse from Travel Health Plus says many travellers don’t even think about rabies when they are travelling overseas despite the fatal consequences of contracting the infection.

“We see on average one to two people a week for rabies treatment, which is not only a huge cost to our state government, it is something which can be easily prevented through education and awareness.”

“With so many people heading to warmer destinations, such as Asia over winter, it’s important they know to stay away from stray animals – no matter how friendly they appear. Don’t coax them to come near you for food or selfies – it’s just not worth the risk,” said Dr Perse.

Travel Health Plus recently treated a patient, Robert May, who had been holidaying in Bali and noticed a stray dog while out and about with his granddaughter. When he turned his back to the puppy, it bit him on the back of the calf prompting the patient to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent rabies.

“If I knew more about rabies, I would have known the high risk of going near the dog and reassessed my options. Once symptoms appear there is no cure, which is obviously really serious, and I think this needs to be made more publicly aware.” said Mr May.

Travel Health Plus urge patients of higher risk such as those who may be working closely with animals, anyone moving overseas or travelling for extended periods of time, and those travelling in remote locations to seek the rabies vaccine prior to heading overseas as medical advice and treatment may not readily be available if they’re exposed.

Smart travelling and planning can easily prevent travellers being exposed to this dangerous infection, avoiding contact with bats and monkeys could help mitigate potentially serious health risks.

Dr Aidan Perse says it’s important for travellers to have a consultation with a travel health clinic a couple of months prior to departing. This will ensure that the specific travel itinerary is reviewed and the necessary vaccines and preventative education are delivered.

If you are planning on heading overseas, book your appointment with Travel Health Plus on (08) 9336 6630.