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Rabies is a serious viral infection that is spread to humans by being bitten by an infected animal. The infection causes inflammation of the brain and nervous system. It is always fatal once symptoms develop, but can be prevented if treatment is given quickly after exposure. In the UK, rabies is not found in the animal population (except bats) and infections are almost always picked up by travellers abroad.

Cheetah watching carefully while on a big boulder


Symptoms normally develop within two to twelve weeks, although it can be as short as four days. Initial symptoms are flu like and include temperature, headache, feeling unwell and scared or anxious. Half of people also get tingling and pain on the infection site.

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High Temperature

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Feeling Scared, Anxious

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Tingling & Pain
on the infection site

After a few days more severe symptoms begin to develop and the person may experience aggressive behaviour, hallucinations, agitation and producing lots of saliva. Once symptoms develop there is no cure and it is nearly always fatal.

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Aggressive Behaviour

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Producing lots of Saliva

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Nearly Always Fatal

Countries at risk

Rabies occurs worldwide and more than 15 million people each receive a post-bite vaccination. Low risk areas include the UK, mainline Europe, Australia, North America, Japan and Singapore. Travelling to anywhere else in the world carries some risk.

Advice for travellers

If you're in a part of the world known to be affected by rabies, always seek medical advice as soon as possible if you're bitten or scratched by an animal, particularly a dog. You can also catch rabies if you have an open wound that is licked by an infected animal. Travellers aboard are advised to avoid contact with animals in infected areas.
If you've been bitten or scratched, you should:
• Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water under a running tap for 15 minutes
• Apply antiseptic or alcohol to clean the wound
• Leave the wound open
• Go to the nearest hospital or medical centre and explain that you've been bitten

All mammals carry the rabies virus, but the following are more commonly infected; dogs, bats, raccoons, foxes, jackals, cats, mongooses and monkeys. Dogs tend to account for the majority of human deaths.


Rabies is vaccine preventable and is given a course of three injections. It is recommended for travellers to high risk countries and there is no access to prompt and safe medical care or they plan to take part in activities which may expose them to rabies, such as jungle trekking. If  travellers have been exposed (bitten, scratched or licked) by an animal that might have rabies, you'll need to seek medical advice immediately to determine whether you need to have a course of treatment to prevent rabies, even if you have had a pre-exposure vaccine.

Number of doses

From birth onwards: Three doses

Second dose given minimum 7 days after first and third dose given minimum 14 days after 2nd dose.

Accelerated regime: If there is insufficient time before travel, three doses can be given over seven days: day 0,3 and 7


Low risk-12 months if travel to high risk area 

High risk- 12 months then every 3-5 years



Meningitis ACWY For Hajj/Umrah

Meningitis symptoms can develop quickly and they can be difficult to spot as they as similar to symptoms of flu. Infection with meningitis is an emergency and requires admission into a hospital where you will be given antibiotics. All pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah are required to show proof of vaccination in the last three years against meningitis ACWY.


Vaccination is required at least 10 days before you are due to travel and you will also receive a certificate as part of your vaccination.

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