Medical Diagnostic Associates, PA
Areas at high risk for Rabies Exposure and Rabies Treatment

Rabies Treatment for Before and After Exposure

You can get vaccinated for rabies at MDA Travel Medicine. Rabies is a preventable viral disease found in mammals. Rabies is most often transmitted through the bite of a sick animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system causing disease in the brain of the animal infected and eventually death.

Rabies vaccines are intended for pre-exposure prevention as well as post-exposure treatment. Rabies differs from many other infections in that the disease can be prevented through timely vaccination even after exposure to the virus. Although all species of mammals are susceptible to rabies virus infection, only a few species are important reservoirs for the disease. In the United States, these species are raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and several species of bats.

Rabies Information for Travelers

In most countries, the risk of rabies in an encounter with an animal and the precautions necessary to prevent rabies are the same as they are in the United States. When traveling, it is always best to avoid approaching any wild or domestic animal.

In certain areas of the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America rabid dogs are the most likely a cause for rabies transmission.

Rabies Pre-exposure Vaccinations

If traveling to a country where there is an increased rate of rabies, especially in feral dog 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.

Exposure to rabid dogs is the cause of over 90% of human exposures to rabies and of over 99% of human deaths worldwide. Most deaths from rabies occur in countries with inadequate public health resources and limited access to preventive treatment.

Rabies Post-exposure Vaccinations

Rabies post-exposure vaccinations consist of a dose of human rabies immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine given on the day of the exposure, and then again in 3 more doses in the two weeks following exposure.

This set of vaccinations is highly effective at preventing rabies if given as soon as possible following an exposure. You should seek medical evaluation for any animal bite. One important factor in deciding if you should have post-exposure treatment will be if the animal can be found and observed for signs of illness.

One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Prompt post-exposure use of vaccination combined with proper wound treatment is almost always effective in preventing rabies. However, delays in starting or failure to complete correct treatment may result in death. Treatment should be started as early as possible after exposure.

Rabies Symptoms

The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. These symptoms may last for days.

As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include inability to sleep, anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, excitability, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty swallowing, and fear of water. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

Learn more about the Rabies Vaccine and the Rabies Virus at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Contact Us

Travel Medicine Services at MDA located in Westfield, New Jersey offer travel consultations, travel immunizations and medications to help protect you while traveling internationally.

Travel Medicine specialists see healthy people who plan to travel to foreign countries or locations where infection risk is higher. In these cases, infectious disease doctors can help you determine whether travel immunizations or other preventive measures are necessary for your destination.

If you are planning a trip in the near future, call one of our convenient locations to make an appointment, and get the immunizations you need for your travel destination.

Travel Medicine Doctors

Office Location

525 Central Avenue, Suite C, Westfield, NJ 07090
Phone: (908) 233-0895 •   Fax: (908) 389-1933
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