Rabies risk warning to travellers
On 12 November 2018, the UK reported a fatal case of rabies, following a cat bite, in a returning traveller from Morocco. Morocco is considered to be a high risk country for rabies, so while this event was shocking and unusual, it was not unexpected. In Morocco, dogs have always been considered as both the disease's primary vector and reservoir. Feline rabies while uncommon, though is not unknown. Each year Morocco reports between 250-350 cases of animal rabies. For the last 10 years, the country has averaged about 20 human cases of rabies per year. There is an active dog vaccination programme (since 2010 between 50,000 and 100,000 dogs are vaccinated each year). The risk of Rabies is very low if travellers follow basic preventive measures such as avoiding contact with any wild and domestic animals, including pets.
Travellers should seek advice from their GP/Travel Medicine Service about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel and after potential exposure. Full information on how to protect yourself from rabies is available on the rabies section of the HPSC website.
HPSC: Rabies frequently asked questions
Public Health England warns travellers of rabies risk - 12/11/18