In the last few months, there have been several cases of holidaymakers from the Isle of Man being bitten by dogs whilst on holiday overseas. Rabies is endemic in some parts of the world. The risk of people getting rabies can be high depending on the country, the site of the bite, the immunisation status of the person sustaining the bite (i.e. are they already protected by vaccination) and the immediate treatment following the dog bite.
The Department’s Public Health Directorate would like to offer the following guidance to holidaymakers:
- If you are travelling to a country which is considered ‘high risk’, including all of Asia, Africa, parts of South America and parts of former Soviet Union, ensure that you receive a ‘risk assessment’ with an experienced doctor or nurse who will help to advise you on your individual need for the Rabies vaccination before you travel. This will take into consideration where you are travelling to and any activities, such as running or cycling, that may increase your risk. The case for travel vaccine is especially strong in those visiting rural and remote parts where access to emergency medical care is limited.
- Contact your practice nurse or GP at least six weeks before your travel date so that all the travel vaccines and medications can be organised in time. Travel advice and protection like travel insurance has associated costs and is not funded by the Department. Your travel insurance may be invalid if you have not taken appropriate advice prior to travel.
- When you are abroad, do not handle animals. It is important to ensure that any children accompanying you, should also do not stroke or pet any animals, especially dogs. Dogs are often attracted to children who may stroke them or attempt to feed them without realising the dangers.
- If you are bitten, scratched or even licked on broken skin by a dog, wash the wound for approximately 20 minutes with soap and running water. Following this, seek urgent medical advice from a well-equipped health care facility. Depending on the country and details of the bite, you may need to receive Rabies Immunoglobulin and Rabies Vaccine.
- Ensure that any child travelling with you informs you immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by dogs or other animals. Children may withhold this information from parents in fear of being told-off. If a child reports an incident, once you have thoroughly washed the wound, seek urgent medical advice.
- Ensure that you seek medical advice as soon as possible once you arrive back in the UK or the Isle of Man.