bug avatar


a.k.a Rab

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.

Key Fact

Once symptoms are present, rabies is almost always fatal.1 So prevention and early treatment are crucial.

disease risk map

How do people catch the disease?

Being bitten or scratched by infected animals such as dogs, bats or monkeys.3 The rabies virus is found in saliva.

Which countries are affected?

Rabies occurs in most countries in the world but some countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, are high-risk areas (see map).2

What are the symptoms?

Fever, headache, feeling unwell, pain at the site of the wound.3

How serious is the disease?

If rabies symptoms develop, the disease cannot be treated and is generally fatal.

Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

  • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
  • Avoid contact with animals that may bite4
  • If you are bitten or scratched, the wound should be thoroughly cleaned and treated with a disinfectant containing iodine or alcohol.4 Seek medical help immediately


1. Travel Health Pro. Diseases in brief. Rabies. Available online: http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/disease/148/rabies (Last accessed September 2017)

2. World Health Organization. Rabies, countries or areas at risk. 2013. Available online: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_Rabies_ITHRiskMap.png (Last accessed September 2017)

3. World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. WHO Position Paper on Rabies. August 2010. Available online: http://www.who.int/wer/2010/wer8532.pdf (Last accessed September 2017)

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 3 Infectious Diseases Related to Travel. Rabies. May 2017. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/rabies (Last accessed September 2017)


UK/TRA/0817/0171g September 2017