PHE advises all travellers to rabies-affected countries to avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and to seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel.
Rabies is a serious viral infection that affects the brain and central nervous system. The virus is transmitted to humans via animal bites. It causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mainly in Asia and Africa.
99% of human rabies cases are transmitted by dogs. But the NHS advises that all mammals (including monkeys) can carry rabies. It is most common in:
CEGA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Lynn Gordon, says, “Although relatively rare among travellers, rabies is more likely to be fatal than any other disease. But it can be prevented, even after exposure to the virus.
“It is vital for travellers who have been bitten or scratched by a potentially infected animal to seek urgent medical help, or call their insurance assistance helpline immediately. They can then receive the right specialist advice and get access to suitable treatment as quickly as possible.
"We follow a strict protocol when any animal bite or scratch is reported. The customer is referred immediately to our in-house medical team for individual assessment and, if necessary, we will arrange transport to a medical centre that can provide the appropriate treatment.”
CEGA runs specialist rabies training sessions for call handlers that cover a range of areas; from rabies transmission and hotspots, to symptoms, prevention and protocol for customers at risk.