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Travel Health advice for travellers interested in Animal Bites

Encounters with animals can cause problems for the traveller and any unnecessary contact with them should be avoided.


Rabies is present worldwide - except in the United Kingdom, parts of Scandinavia, Japan, Oceania, Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Malta and some Caribbean islands. It can be transmitted to humans in several ways, but most commonly via the bite of an infected domestic dog. Rabies, if left untreated, will always cause death.


  1. Do not stroke dogs and cats and avoid contact with bats, jackals, foxes and other wild animals.Avoid any animal exhibiting erratic or aggressive behaviours.
  2. In an area endemic for rabies all unprovoked bites or licks should be considered a possible exposure.
  3. In the event of possible exposure to rabies immediate first aid should be instigated:-
    • Thorough cleansing of the wound with soap/detergent and running water for 5 minutes.
    • Application of an antiseptic (e.g.. iodine, chlorhexidine or alcohol).
    • Seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

It may be necessary to commence rabies vaccination and anti-tetanus measures.  If you have been immunized against rabies prior to being bitten you may still require further doses of vaccine.  If travellers have never been immunized against rabies and receive a suspect bite, vaccination should be initiated within 24-48 hours.

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