Ensure a Safe Journey: Rabies Vaccination Tips for UK Travelers

bat hanging upside down

Are you planning a trip abroad from the UK? At Aqua Travel Clinic, we understand the importance of staying informed about rabies risks and vaccination availability. Here’s your guide to practical advice for securing a rabies vaccine, especially during shortages.

Rabies Awareness for UK Travelers

Rabies, a vaccine-preventable viral disease, poses a global risk and is primarily transmitted through contact with infected animals’ saliva. This includes bites, scratches, or exposure to open wounds. Even contact with mucous membranes increases the risk.

Surprisingly, bats in the UK can also carry rabies, making it crucial for travelers to be vigilant. Once symptoms appear in humans, rabies is almost always fatal. Found in over 150 countries, excluding Antarctica, rabies demands proactive prevention strategies.

Facing Vaccine Shortages: What Travelers Need to Know

In some cases, the supply of rabies vaccines for pre-exposure may be limited. During extreme circumstances, such as worldwide shortages or discontinuation of a specific rabies vaccine product, Aqua Travel Clinic encourages travelers to follow additional practical advice for a healthy journey to rabies-risk areas.

Tips for Travelers: Before You Go

  1. Destination Check: Prior to your trip, consult our Country Information pages to assess the rabies risk at your destination.
  2. Professional Consultation: Discuss your travel plans with a health professional who can advise on the need for a rabies vaccine. If time is short, you might be advised to complete the vaccination course abroad, considering the potential limited supply at your destination. Locate clinics overseas through The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) Global Travel Clinic Directory.
  3. Preparation is Key: Read about rabies and risk reduction strategies before visiting countries with a rabies threat. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) offers an informative leaflet.

Occupational Risk: Are You at Danger?

Certain occupations in the UK may warrant pre-exposure vaccination, including:

  • Laboratory staff working with rabies virus.
  • Workers at Defra-authorized quarantine premises.
  • Individuals handling bats, including volunteers.
  • Veterinary and technical staff with an increased risk.

For those working in rabies risk areas abroad, precautions apply to roles such as animal control and wildlife workers, veterinary staff, and zoologists. If your work involves handling animals, seek advice from your Occupational Health (OH) team.

While You Are Away: Stay Vigilant

Even if you’ve completed a rabies vaccine course, avoid contact with all animals, including pets. Be cautious of seemingly normal animals that can still be carriers. Follow these precautions:

  • Avoid approaching any animals, including bats.
  • Do not handle sick or unusually tame animals, including bats.
  • Be cautious with litter and food to prevent attracting stray animals.
  • Children are at higher risk, so ensure they avoid touching animals and report any incidents.

In Case of Exposure Abroad: Take Immediate Action

If bitten, scratched, or licked by an animal, or if you find a bat in your room:

  1. Wash and flush the area immediately with soap and water.
  2. Seek urgent medical help locally – do not delay until your return to the UK.
  3. Begin rabies post-exposure treatment abroad if advised, and do not wait to return home. Search for a clinic using the ISTM Global Travel Clinic Directory.
  4. Request a written record of any overseas post-exposure treatment and contact your medical insurance company. If uncomfortable with the advice received abroad, inform your insurance company and seek their guidance.

Upon Return: Follow-Up with Your GP

Contact your GP upon returning to the UK, even if you received treatment abroad or the exposure occurred weeks ago. Bring any treatment records, and your GP will determine if additional rabies vaccines are needed.

At Aqua Travel Clinic, your safety is our priority. Stay informed and take the necessary steps to ensure a rabies-free travel experience.

Scroll to Top