Keep Yourself Safe

The Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO), provide excellent information about personal safety and security. They have information for many different types of travel and also give advice on travel to specific destinations in times of political unrest and natural disasters. Before Travelling, particularly if you are travelling to a country that may have security or health risks you should visit their website for up to date information and advice. 

Always leave information with your Department about your destination, travel arrangements, your return date, and how you can be contacted if an emergency arises while you are away.

Accidents are the major leading cause of death in travellers abroad, predominately road traffic accidents and swimming/water accidents. You can help prevent them by following sensible precautions.

  • Avoid alcohol and food before swimming
  • Never dive into water where the depth is uncertain
  • Only swim in safe water – beware of currents, sharks, jellyfish etc.
  • Avoid alcohol when driving
  • Avoid hiring motorcycles and mopeds
  • If hiring a car, rent a large one if possible and ensure that the tyres, brakes and seat belts are
  • in good condition
  • Always use a seat belt
  • Use reliable taxi firms and know where emergency facilities are

 

Rabies

Rabies is a rare but very serious infection of the brain and nerves. It is usually caught from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, most often a dog.

Rabies is found throughout the world, particularly in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.

It is not found in the UK except in a small number of wild bats.

It is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, but treatment before this happens is very effective. There is also a vaccine for people at risk of being infected.

Rabies Vaccination

You should consider getting vaccinated against rabies if:

Your travelling to an area where rabies is common, and you plan to stay for a month or more, or there’s unlikely to be quick access to appropriate medical care.

You are travelling to an area where rabies is common, and you plan to do activities that could put you at increased risk of exposure to animals with rabies – such as running or cycling.

Visit a travel clinic, or your G.P. practice, if they offer a travel health service if you think you may need the vaccine.

Even if you have been vaccinated, you should still take precautions to avoid coming into contact with rabies if you are travelling in an area where rabies is found, and get medical help straight away if you have been bitten or scratched.

How to avoid being bitten or scratched

All mammals including monkeys can carry rabies. They can spread the infection if they bite or scratch you or lick an open wound.

While travelling in an area where rabies is a risk:

Avoid contact with animals – some infected animals behave strangely, but sometimes there may be no obvious signs that they are infected

Avoid touching dead animals.

For information about areas where rabies is a risk: see:

Gov.UKrabies risk by country

Travel Health Pro: Country Information

What to do if you have been bitten or scratched

If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal in an area with a risk of rabies;

Immediately clean the wound with running water and soap for at least 15 minutes

Disinfect the wound with and alcohol or iodine based disinfectant and apply a simple dressing, if possible

Go to the nearest medical centre, hospital or G.P. surgery as soon as possible and explain that you have been bitten scratched

If this happens while you are abroad, get local medical help immediately. Do not wait until you have returned to the U.K.

If you have already returned to the UK without getting medical advice, it is still vital to get help, even if has been several weeks since you were bitten or scratched.

Post-Exposure treatment is nearly 100% effective if it is started before any symptoms of rabies appear.

Treatment for a bite or scratch

If you have been bitten, scratched or licked by an animal that might have rabies, you may need specialist medical treatment to stop you getting rabies.

This treatment involves:

Cleaning the wound

A course of rabies vaccine – you will need to have 5 doses over a month if you have not been vaccinated before, or 2 doses a few days apart if you have

In some cases, immunoglobulin may be given into and around the wound – this will provide immediate but short-term protection if there is a significant chance that you have been infected.

Treatment should be started as soon as possible, ideally within a few hours of being bitten, scratched or licked.

Rabies in the UK

The UK has been rabies-free since the beginning of the 20th century, with the exception of a rabies-like virus in a species of wild bat called Daubenton’s bats.

There has only been 1 recorded case of someone catching rabies from a bat in the UK. It is also rare for infected bats to spread rabies to other animals.

However, if you find and injured or dead bat, don’t touch it.

There have been four deaths from rabies in the UK since 2000 – all in people who were bitten by dogs abroad.

However, worldwide rabies kills over 55,000 each year.