Rabies in South East Asia
Family Medical Practice Viet Nam
Rabies in South East Asia

Rabies is an acute viral infection that causes inflammation of the spinal cord and the brain (encephalomyelitis).

South east Asia is an endemic area for Rabies. Bali has been an endemic area for rabies since 2008. Since the beginning of 2015, there have been 10 deaths from rabies in Bali, the latest of which was a 12 year old girl who was scratched by a pet cat.

In June 2015, a young French expat girl died of rabies in Phnom Penh. It is estimated that about 1.5% of all Rabies cases worldwide occur in Cambodia.

It is usually spread through an infected bite or scratch from a rabid animal, most commonly through a dog bite. In Asia other animals such as bats, monkeys and cats are also a source of potential exposure to the disease.

27-May-14-Rabbies-2.jpgThe Illness

The incubation period for the disease is usually between 20-60 days but may range from 5 days to 1 year in some cases. The virus causes headache, fever, general weakness and numbness or tingling around the wound site. The disease progresses to muscle spasms, hydrophobia (fear of water) and convulsions. Death is the usual outcome if infected with rabies virus. There is no specific treatment available for rabies once symptoms develop.

Recommendations & Preventions

Pre-exposure treatment

Vaccination is recommended for all travelers who will be living or traveling in endemic areas and who may be exposed to rabies because of their travel activities i.e. trekking, working or living in rural areas.

Post-exposure treatment
It is imperative to seek medical attention as soon an possible if a bite or scratch is sustained in any rabies endemic area even if pre-travel vaccination has been given.

Saliva should be thoroughly washed off with soap and water and the wound irrigated with iodine solution or alcohol. This is very effective in removing virus from the bite, providing it is prompt and thorough. Suturing of the wound should be avoided and tetanus vaccination should be considered.

Vaccinations at FMP
If you are planning to travel to Bali or plan on traveling to rural areas in South east Asia and  have not had the rabies shot; please book a vaccination appointment by calling (08) 3822 7848.