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J Travel Med. 2008 Jan-Feb;15(1):25-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.2007.00164.x.

Rabies postexposure prophylaxis in returned injured travelers from France, Australia, and New Zealand: a retrospective study.

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1
Service des Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, Hôpital Nord, Marseille, France. philippe.gautret@club-internet.fr

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is little published information available describing rabies pre- and postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) in tourists returning to their home country and seeking care for animal-associated injuries, especially those associated with a rabies risk.

METHOD:

We analyzed 261 travelers seeking care on returning to their home country following an animal-related injury acquired abroad. Information on individual cases of rabies (PEP) including preexposure status, type of contact with a potentially rabid animal, type of animal, and the nature of rabies PEP was collected by retrospectively analyzing records from May 1997 to May 2005.

RESULTS:

The majority of injuries were acquired in South-east Asia and North Africa. Only 6.8% of injured patients were previously vaccinated against rabies, while 75.4% of the cohort experienced a severe injurious contact with animals (World Health Organization category III). Of travelers who sustained a high-risk injury, only 24% received both vaccination and rabies immune globulin,(RIG) while 76% received vaccination only. Of the travelers who did not receive RIG, 43% had received a first dose of vaccine more than 7 days after return and before presenting to a clinic in their home country.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study highlights important deficiencies in rabies PEP for travelers who acquire high-risk, animal-associated injuries in rabies-endemic countries, with the majority not receiving adequate PEP or experiencing a substantial delay before receiving rabies vaccination.

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