jenniferstone

Rabies Vaccination

48 posts in this topic

We are planning our first safari in South Africa for this August and are starting to get our vaccinations. The CDC recommends getting the rabies vaccination and we were wondering how necessary this is and whether most people get it or not. The vaccine is not covered by my insurance and it costs $800 per person. When traveling to South Africa have you gotten the rabies vaccination?

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Personally, no. Normally on safari you are very unlikely to come into contact with a rabid animal.

 

I think sometimes it is recommended if you are working, hands on, with wild animals or if you are working in an inner city where there are could be stray animals that could be rabid.

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I gave it to my children but only because I wasn't certain that they'd remember to keep their distance from animals. I've never bothered for myself.

 

Remember that they don't mean you don't get immediate help if bitten, you will still need urgent medical attention.

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If the vaccine wasn't so expensive I wouldn't give a second thought to getting it. Even if you do get bitten you still have to get shots after, it only gives you a longer period of time to get emergency help. I feel like the odds of getting bitten are pretty low, but knowing my luck it would happen just because I didn't get the vaccination. Apparently right now there is a shortage of the vaccine and you have to apply to the CDC for it, so we may not even able to get it.

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Posted (edited)

the odds are very low

 

people who want to save money also don't take malaria medication

 

this is the way the guides talk

 

malaria risk comes from insect activity which is related to temperature

 

it is cool when I go in winter, a little bit warmer when you go in spring

 

to a kruger season guide swee http://www.tangala.co.za and go to the season guide along the top

 

thornybush is very near africa on foot and some distance away from umkumbe

 

I am cautious taking medication, using repellant and covering up with long trousers and long sleeve shirt

 

 

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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I went to SA with my husband and kids in June 2012. It was all of our first trip to Africa. I don't think we even considered getting the rabies vaccination and we went to a travel clinic that checked CDC recommendations. I thought the recommendation was more like what WildDog said, i.e. only really recommended if you are going to be hands on working with animals. I really wouldn't worry about it and I'm a BIG worrier! We did do malarone though even though it was winter. Our insurance covered it and it was only $5 each for the generic, and the side effects were minor, so it seemed worth it.

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Nope, I've never bothered even when I spent nearly a year in Africa.

 

I'd be more worried about rabies on a trip somewhere where I'd be visiting cities with lots of stray domestic animals.

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before I went on my trips, I went to see my doctor who suggested vaccinations cholera,smallpox,tentus etc and malaria piils, but not mention was made of rabies.

 

the only domestic dogs allowed in nature reserves are the tracking dogs used by the anti poaching team

 

in practical terms the only health things likely to happen to you are a few minor scratches and possibly sunburn.

 

so take bandages,anteseptic, sunscreen,a sunhat and cover well with clothes

 

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$800 per person!!?? WTH??

It costs almost nothing here in Kenya.

 

Travel clinics in the states make BANK!

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I really wouldn't worry about it and I'm a BIG worrier!

 

I'm a big worrier too!

 

OK, I'm feeling better about us not getting the rabies vaccination.

 

$800 per person!!?? WTH??

It costs almost nothing here in Kenya.

 

Travel clinics in the states make BANK!

 

I know, my husband thinks the cost is ridiculous!

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If you’re going to be doing anything that involves handling animals then you should have the rabies jab, if you’re not but you are going to be spending anytime in and around rural villages for example then you might well want to have it. However if you’re just going on a regular safari then you needn’t bother.

 

Having said that in any country where rabies is prevalent NEVER approach an unknown dog, even if it’s the friendliest most benign looking dog in the world if you don’t know who it belongs to keep your distance. Rabies doesn’t turn every dog in to the snarling vicious beast of popular imagination some rabid dogs can remain entirely ‘tame’ and friendly. So even if an unknown dog just licks you, you should seek medical attention though unless the saliva gets in to a cut or scratch you’re not likely to be in serious danger.

 

Obviously if you’re staying somewhere where someone has a pet dog then you should have nothing to fear.

 

So don’t bother with the jab just remember to exercise common sense around dogs (or other animals) and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

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Non Africa anecdote... I was bitten by the mangiest looking dog here once in Portugal. Went to the local hospital where they cleaned it up. (The bite wound, not the mangy dog). Would not give me the rabies shot. They said to keep the dog tied up for a week to monitor it for signs and if it did exhibit to come back - it was some stray that we never saw again...

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And my non-Africa animal bite story is: My daughter and I were BOTH bitten by a pet rat (not ours - she was watching it for a friend) in the same week! TWO visits to urgent care in one case and Emergency Room in the other - of course this rat couldn't be bothered to bite us during office hours!! We were told that pet rats are highly unlikely to carry rabies so we didn't need treatment for that but we both needed a course of antibiotics. Most expensive pet-sitting experience ever. But we felt it was perhaps karma as my daughter had broken this friend's arm once by kicking a soccer ball at her so hard that the ball broke her arm (Not intentionally of course!). So we figure with all the medical bils, our families are probably about even. ;)

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Non Africa anecdote... I was bitten by the mangiest looking dog here once in Portugal. Went to the local hospital where they cleaned it up. (The bite wound, not the mangy dog). Would not give me the rabies shot. They said to keep the dog tied up for a week to monitor it for signs and if it did exhibit to come back - it was some stray that we never saw again...

 

Well that sounds pretty crazy to me, I don’t how much rabies there is in Portugal but had that dog been rabid you would have been in serious trouble because as soon as you start to experience any symptoms of rabies it’s almost always fatal.

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To all - this just goes to show the level of ignorance about rabies versus the current recommendations. There is NO reason for anyone to receive a prophylactic rabies (pre-exposure) rabies vaccination. This is a complete waste of money. If you should be bitten by any animal you can receive a very highly effective post-exposure series of vaccinations.

 

See here:

 

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/acip_recommendations.html

 

How many people do you think died of rabies in recent years in the USA where rabies is endemic?

 

About 2-3 each year, and I know from having worked at the Rabies Section at the USA Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta that virtually all of those are due to bites by rabid bats.

 

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html

 

Out of a potentially exposed population of 315 million. How many people die from lightning strikes in the USA? 73 per year

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2003/05/0522_030522_lightning.html

 

What is the largest cause of human mortality in the USA from an animal source? Bees.

 

http://historylist.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/human-deaths-in-the-us-caused-by-animals/

 

Thus my recommendation in terms of a very costly prophylactic rabies vaccination would be ... spend it instead on a happy vacation. If you should be bitten by an animal, the post-exposure vaccines will completely protect you.

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Studies have shown the following:

 

About 60 percent of all human diseases and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, according to the researchers. Most human infections with zoonoses [animal diseases communicated to humans] come from livestock, including pigs, chickens, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.

 

Avoid those animals on your safari and you will be fine :)

 

http://www.livescience.com/21426-global-zoonoses-diseases-hotspots.html

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I have made the decision to get a rabies vaccine, but certainly not for a South African safari. I mention I got it to to let you know there are places and risks that I believe warrant the expense of this vaccine. Unless you are spending time in caves or an extended stay in villages that may have stray dogs, I would not consider a rabies vaccine for a typical South African safari.

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I tend to agree with LionAid about getting the post exposure vaccines in the event of any bites or scratches from an animal. I carry a sharps kit just in case.

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both reserves where you are going have controlled access via an electric fence , the only entry is by a locked gate controlled by a security guard.

 

dogs are not allowed in

 

both places do walking safaris , for safety the guide carries a rifle.

 

in the very,very unlikely of any diseased domestic animals coming around they will be delt with.

 

as stated before your realistic risks are scatches and sunburn , so wear long clothing trousers and long sleeved shirt ,take sunscreen, bandaids and anteseptic.

 

 

looking at the kruger season guide from tangala ,it is getting a bit warmer in august , so you mighy like to take swimmers

 

have a good trip ,it is desireable to be interested in your health ,but no one here thinks that you have anything like a realistic risk of contacting rabies

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Very rare to get rabies. And only happens to people who try and handle sick dogs in rural areas. Last year there was an outbreak and 4 people died in KZN. Death by rabies is the worst possible way to die.

 

There is no need for the vaccination if you are a traveller. I also don't understand why the vaccination is so expensive.

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The rabies vaccination is quite expensive in the UK, but more like £150 for the course of 3 shots. Still a long way from $800!!

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Thanks everyone for your recommendations and sharing your experiences, extremely helpful!!

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I believe the reason why some docs suggest a vaccination is because there is a chronic shortage of the post-exposure immoglobulin. So while it sounds simple in theory, it could be a bit of a pain to get a hold of it within 48 hours from your safari location.

To all - this just goes to show the level of ignorance about rabies versus the current recommendations. There is NO reason for anyone to receive a prophylactic rabies (pre-exposure) rabies vaccination. This is a complete waste of money. If you should be bitten by any animal you can receive a very highly effective post-exposure series of vaccinations.

See here:

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/acip_recommendations.html

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So glad I stumbled upon this topic! I loathe shots, and I've heard the rabies vaccine is painful (and, as mentioned, expensive), so I was worried about that. Very glad to hear it's not necessary.

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Apparently there is a shortage of the rabies vaccine in the US right now and they are limiting pre-exposure vaccinations. We had to apply to the CDC for the pre-exposure vaccine and our application was denied. So, our decision whether or not to get vaccinated was made for us.

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