Dog bites require prompt medical attention, with immediate, vigorous washing with soap and water of any wounds, followed by cleansing with an antiseptic. This then is followed by a series of five post-exposure rabies shots that need to be administered on a specific timetable. Waiting too long could cost you your life.
Baltimore, MD (Vocus) February 5, 2009
MEDEX Global Group reports a 240% increase in dog bite cases handled by its Emergency Response Center in 2008. This has experts concerned not just about the increase in cases, but also about the possibility that travelers might contract the deadly rabies virus from rabid wild dogs.
"Most travelers know to be wary of close contact with wild animals, such as snakes and monkeys, but many Americans forget that in some foreign countries most dogs are wild and can carry diseases," explains Dr. Ben Koppel. As Medical Director for MEDEX, Koppel urges travelers to err on the side of caution. "Dog bites require prompt medical attention, with immediate, vigorous washing with soap and water of any wounds, followed by cleansing with an antiseptic. This then is followed by a series of five post-exposure rabies shots that need to be administered on a specific timetable. Waiting too long could cost you your life."
Causing more than 50,000 deaths worldwide each year, rabies kills more people than polio, encephalitis, or meningitis - with almost half of the victims being children. Compounding the problem, there is a global shortage of rabies vaccines and the human or equine rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) recommended by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both products are also expensive.
"Unfortunately, the greatest difficulty in preventative or proper post-treatment exists in the countries where the vaccine and immunoglobulin are most needed," according to Dr. Henry Wilde, MEDEX Physician Advisor and world-renowned expert on rabies and infectious diseases. Wilde urges travelers to plan ahead for the pre-exposure vaccinations regimen if they know they will be traveling to a canine rabies endemic region, particularly in Asia, Africa and parts of South America. "Most importantly, if travelers have been vaccinated, they will not need the expensive and scarce immunoglobulin (RIG) if they are bitten by an animal in a rabies endemic country," he explains.
''Rabies as a Threat to the Traveler,'' a MEDEX article authored by Dr. Wilde, can be downloaded online in .pdf format. Additional white papers and articles about medical and security risks and management for international travelers are available online using the MEDEX website white paper link.
MEDEX is the oldest and largest independently owned provider of global travel, security and medical assistance in North America. For more than 30 years, MEDEX has served corporations, scholastic institutions, government agencies, humanitarian organizations and individual business and leisure travelers. MEDEX services range from pre-trip intelligence and contingency planning to real-time medical case management and complex emergency evacuations.
For more information or interview with Dr. Koppel or Dr. Wilde, please contact Nicole Beach, 410-453-6391, or Josianne Pennington, 410-453-6364.