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Travel Med Infect Dis. 2008 Jan-Mar;6(1-2):12-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2007.09.041. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Assessment of rabies exposure risk among Israeli travelers.

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Infectious Diseases Unit, Bnai Zion Medical Center, P.O. Box 4940, Haifa 31048, Israel.



The decision whether or not to administer rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to travelers visiting endemic areas is a complex one. Paramount for making that decision is knowledge of the risk of animal bites during travel. This study attempts to estimate the risk of bites in travelers, and study the action they took before and after the incident.


Travelers presenting for pre-travel immunizations during the period of August through December 2004, who planned a travel of >or= 1 month's duration were retrospectively identified, contacted and interviewed by a structured questionnaire. These travelers did not receive specific advice concerning rabies.


The study cohort comprised of 815 travelers (median age=25), of who 13 (1.6%) were injured by a potentially rabid animal (mainly, dog=6; monkey=4). The incidence of potential rabies exposure was found to be of 2.66 per 1000 travelers per month. Those injured had significantly longer trips than the non-injured (6.9+/-3.8 vs. 4+/-5.0 months, p=0.037); notably, the injuries occurred after a median of 5 weeks from departure. Although seven travelers noted blood at the site of injury, only four (31%) of the injured sought medical attention following the exposure, and all four received post-exposure prophylaxis.


An injury by potentially rabid animals is not rare among long-term travelers. As the injury may occur early in the itinerary, rabies PEP should be considered for this population. Educational efforts are required in light of the lack of understanding of the dismal consequences of rabies among travelers.

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