What to do if you are bitten by an animal
If a dog, cat, monkey or other animal bites or even scratches you during your trip, there is a risk of rabies. Even a trivial bite matters. There is no easy way to know if the animal is rabid and rabies is fatal. Wash the wound with water for 10 minute. Use soap if you have that. You are trying to wash away the animal's saliva.
You must also seek immediate medical attention to receive the necessary injections as soon as possible.
If you did not receive rabies vaccine before you left...
You will need two types of injection:
(1) Rabies immune globulin - this is a fast-acting injection to give you immediate protection against rabies. It is given into the wound
2) Rabies vaccine: Four injections over the course of weeks into the upper arm. The usual schedule is day 0, 3, 7 and 14.
If you received rabies vaccine in the traditional way (3 doses over 3 or 4 weeks, intramuscular injection) before you left...
This is the traditional way to get rabies vaccine, given in the upper arm. In this case, you do not need the hard-to-find rabies immune globulin. You do need two more doses of rabies vaccine, usually given on days 0 and 3.
If you received rabies vaccine by the less conventional intradermal route...
This is a less common but also less expensive way to be immunized against rabies before travel. Sometimes it is given as several injections all at the same time, at different sites. Because this method can sometimes fail, our clinic insists that travellers get a blood test done 3-4 weeks later. We want to see that the vaccine worked. We will normally contact you to let you know the results. If we have not, you should call us.
If we tell you it did not work, you should follow the same advice as for someone who did not receive rabies vaccine at all. You need both the rabies immune globulin and 4 doses of rabies vaccine, usually given on days 0, 3, 7 and 14.
If we tell you it did work, you should follow the same advice as for someone who did receive the vaccine before travel in the traditional way: no rabies immune globulin is necessary if bitten but you do need two more doses of the vaccine, usually given on day 0 and 3.
How to find a clinic abroad
We suggest you go to www.istm.org. This is the website of the International Society of Travel Medicine. Click on the global travel clinic directory to find a clinic closest to you.
Another source is IAMAT, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers at www.iamat.org.