Rabies Alert: CDC Highlights Threat to Travelers2 min read
Though it may be far from many travelers’ minds, rabies poses a lethal threat in most parts of the world. Today’s travel bulletin addressed the 100th rabies related death in Indonesia. Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on a fatal case of rabies acquired by a Virginia man in India in 2009. Rabies is rare in the U.S.– since 2000, only 31 cases have been reported but seven were acquired abroad. Cases were contracted by Americans traveling in India, the Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, El Salvador and Haiti. Rabies is transmitted by animal bites—most commonly by dogs but also wild animals, including bats.
The biggest threat is posed by dogs in Asia and Africa, but very few countries are free of rabies (see chart below). And many rabies cases are likely treated abroad and not reported. According to the CDC, the actual rate of rabies exposure in tourists has not been calculated with accuracy; however, studies have found a range of roughly 16 to 200 infections per 100,000 travelers.
Rabies immunization is widely available and is a good idea if you are traveling to the developing world. Unless treated early, rabies is usually fatal. Travelers are advised to avoid contact with unattended dogs, and spelunkers should seek treatment if they come into physical contact with a cave-dwelling bat that produces a scratch or cut.
Countries reporting no indigenous cases of rabies during 20051
Source: Centers for Disease Control
|Africa||Cape Verde, Libya, Mauritius, Réunion, São Tome and Principe, and Seychelles|
|Americas||North: Bermuda, St. Pierre and Miquelon Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts (Saint Christopher) and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, and Virgin Islands (UK and US)South: Uruguay|
|Asia||Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia (Sabah), Qatar, Singapore, United Arab Emirates|
|Europe||Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic2, Denmark2, Finland, France2, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands2, Norway, Portugal, Spain2 (except Ceuta/ Melilla), Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom2|
|Oceania3||Australia2, Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Micronesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu|
1Bat rabies may exist in some areas that are reportedly free of rabies in other animals.
2Bat lyssa viruses are known to exist in these areas that are reportedly free of rabies in other animals.
3Most of Pacific Oceania is reportedly rabies-free.