Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus. You can become infected through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. The disease is fatal in many cases. Rabies occurs almost everywhere in the world. The chance of getting the disease in the Netherlands is small.
How do you get rabies?
The rabies virus is mainly found in dogs, bats, foxes and cats. You can get rabies when you are bitten, scratched or licked by an infected animal. If an infected animal licks over a wound, you can become infected. Travelers abroad are often bitten or scratched by (stray) dogs or monkeys.
In the Netherlands, rabies is almost non-existent. Only certain species of bats are contagious. If a bat has bitten, scratched or licked you, call your doctor immediately.
How do I protect myself from rabies?
You can protect yourself from rabies by being careful when coming in contact with animals or by getting yourself vaccinated.
Contact with animals:
- Avoid contact with animals, no matter how cute they look. Do not touch dead animals.
- Clearly tell your child(ren) not to pet or feed animals while traveling.
- Children have an increased risk of animal bites. They are therefore more likely to be eligible for a rabies vaccination.
- Sometimes rabies vaccinations are advised before departure. The advice depends on the destination country.
If you want to protect yourself from rabies, you can choose vaccination. A full vaccination series consists of two shots. There needs to be at least a week between the two shots. Children younger than one year and people with immune disorders need three shots. A full vaccination series provides a lifetime of basic protection.
What should I do if I have been bitten, licked or scratched?
- Rinse the wound with plenty of soap and water for an extended period of time.
- Clean the wound with iodine or alcohol (70%).
- Call the emergency center of your health insurance or travel insurance company immediately. Even if you have been previously vaccinated against rabies. They will tell you to which hospital you can go to for treatment and give advice.
- Make sure you bring your vaccination records with you to the doctor.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal in a foreign country, you must immediately go to a hospital or medical center. If you have not been vaccinated against rabies, you need a vaccination and antibodies immediately. These antibodies are difficult to obtain in some countries. Therefore, always call the emergency number of your travel insurance or health insurance company.
If you are bitten or scratched and you have been vaccinated, you only need two vaccinations after the bite. These are usually available in other countries. Do you need vaccinations after your trip? Please contact us.
Where can I go for rabies vaccinations?
For vaccinations and information on travel and health, please visit Ease Travel Clinic & Health Support.
A full vaccination series consists of two shots. There needs to be at least a week between the two shots. Children younger than one year and people with immune disorders need three shots. A full vaccination series provides a lifetime of basic protection.