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Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.

Key facts

  • Rabies is still present and still almost always fatal when left untreated2
  • Rabies is estimated to cause 59,000 deaths annually, with the vast majority occurring in Africa and Asia2
  • Travellers may have misconceptions about rabies and may underestimate their risks for exposure3,4
  • European tourism to developing countries, where rabies persists as a serious risk, is on the rise2,5
  • Based on information from 2015, most travellers do not seek pre-travel medical advice from a healthcare professional3
  • A bite, a scratch or even saliva on broken skin can cause fatal infection6
  • Rabid animals act in surprising, unpredictable ways7
  • WHO and The Green Book recommend consideration of pre-exposure prophylaxis {PrEP} for outdoor travellers to areas with a high risk of rabies exposure and where immediate medical care may be limited7,9

What is rabies?

A lethal bug which infects travellers who are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. Rabies is deadly unless it’s treated straight away, so travellers in high-risk countries should get help immediately if they are bitten or scratched.1,2

Risk areas for rabies


How do you get rabies?

Being bitten or scratched by infected animals such as dogs (which account for 99% of human cases), bats or foxes.12 The rabies virus is found in saliva.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

The initial symptoms can include pain and tingling/numbness around the site of the wound, nausea, vomiting, and even sometimes a fear of water (hydrophobia).12 As it spreads through the brain, it can cause hyperactivity, changes in consciousness and paralysis. In the majority of cases, it usually takes 1-3 months before symptoms start to show, although this has been shown to take up to 1 year.12

How serious is rabies?

By the time symptoms develop, few people survive.12

How can you prevent rabies?

Travellers should be advised to avoid contact with animals that may bite and treating a bite or scratch appropriately if it occurs. Vaccination can help prevent rabies.13

Help protect your travellers from Rabies with
RABIPUR® (Rabies vaccine (inactivated)).

View Prescribing InformationFurther information on SMPCFurther information on PIL

Useful links


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies: (Last accessed March 2023).
  2. WHO. What is Rabies. Available online: (Last accessed March 2023).
  3. McIntosh I. Pre-Travel Health Consultation. Journal of Travel Medicine. 2015; 22,3;143-144.
  4. International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. Travel Health Journal. 5 misconceptions about rabies. Available online: (Last accessed March 2023).
  5. Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries. European outbound tourism. Available online: (Last accessed March 2023).
  6. WHO. Rabies Key Facts. (Last accessed March 2023).
  7. Weese J & Fulford M. Viral Diseases. In: Companion Animal zoonoses. 2010. (Last accessed March 2023).
  8. The Green Book. Chapter 27 Rabies. June 2018. (Last accessed March 2023).
  9. Giesen A, Gniel O, Malerczyk C. 2015. 30 years of rabies vaccination with Rabipur: a summary of clinical data and global experience. Expert Review of Vaccines, 14:3, 351-367, doi: 10.1586/14760584.2015.1011134
  10. Rabipur Summary of Product Characteristics.
  11. WHO. Vaccinating against rabies to save lives. (Last accessed March 2023).
  12. World Health Organisation. Weekly Epidemiological Record. WHO Position Paper on Rabies. April 2018. Available online: (Last accessed March 2023).
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4 Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Rabies. May 2022. Available online: (Last accessed March 2023).

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Reporting forms and information can be found at or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Adverse events should also be reported to the Valneva UK Ltd Medical Information department on Tel: 01506 446608 or via email:

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