Protect Yourself with Rabies Vaccine!
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease of mammals usually transmitted through the bite or scratch of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid.
Rabies virus infects the central nervous system (brain and nervs), causing encephalopathy and ultimately death. Early symptoms of rabies in humans are flu-like: fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, excessive saliva, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal and occurs within days. Only a few documented cases of human survival from rabies have been reported and in each case, the person had received the rabies vaccine either before exposure or after exposure.
In most countries, the risk of rabies and the precautions for preventing rabies are the same as they are in the United States. Because most states have laws requiring rabies vaccination of domestic animals such as dogs and cats, the incidence of rabies in the U.S. is lower than most other countries. However, in some developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, dog rabies may be common and preventive treatment for rabies may be difficult to obtain.
Rabies can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected mammals and with the use of Rabies vaccine.
If you are traveling to a rabies-endemic country, you should consult your health care provider about the possibility of receiving pre-exposure vaccination against rabies. If you do receive pre-exposure vaccination against rabies and you are bitten or scratched by an animal or bat while visiting a foreign country, it is vital that you return to the U.S immediately to receive further treatment. Pre-exposure vaccination does not guarantee that you will not contract rabies, however it will buy you some precious time you need to seek timely medical care quickly. For serious wounds, you should first cleanse the area thoroughly with soap and warm water, cover the wound with a clean bandage and seek emergency medical care for further treatment, such as a tetanus booster.
Pre-exposure vaccination with rabies vaccine is suggested if:
- You will be in contact with wild or domestic animals (for example, biologists, veterinarians, or agriculture specialists working with animals).
- You will be visiting remote areas where medical care is difficult to obtain or may be delayed (for example, hiking through remote villages where dogs and bats are common).
- Your stay is longer than 1 month in an area where dog rabies is common (the longer you stay, the greater the chance of an encounter with an animal).
Pre-exposure rabies vaccination requires 3 doses of rabies vaccine to be given on the initial day, then day 7 followed by the third dose on day 21 or day 28. Post exposure treatment is now scheduled in 4 doses, with the first dose of rabies vaccine given ASAP, then days 3, 7 and 14 with a dose of Rabies Immune Globulin given with the first dose of rabies vaccine.
If you are traveling outside of the U.S , visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/vaccinations.aspx
For more specific information related to Rabies vaccine and other information you need before you travel.
Most of the above information was taken from:
For more specific information, refer to the Rabies Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) found at
SHOTS, etc. offers both pre and post exposure Rabies Vaccine to individuals, however if you have been exposed, you must first seek emergency medical care for comprehensive treatment and bring us a written prescription for the rabies vaccine before we will administer it to you. Please call our office for more specific instructions.