My favorite Toronto travel doctor is Dr. Mark Wise. Not only is he a helpful travel doctor, he has authored the highly recommended Travel Health Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before You Leave, While You're Away, After You're Back and also writes a humorous and informative blog about staying healthy while traveling. His latest blog entry Rabies Returns to Toronto is a good reminder about rabies for travelers.
According to Dr. Wise: "Rabies is a viral infection transmitted via the bite, or perhaps a lick through broken skin, of mainly dogs, though bats, monkeys, foxes, racoons and cats may also be responsible. Giraffes and elephants aren’t a problem, so pet them! Rabies in travellers is thankfully rare. But all of my travellers receive the advice “Don’t play with dogs and other furry animals. If you get bitten, wash the wound thoroughly for at least twenty minutes, and seek good medical care … and call home to make sure that your medical advice is correct.” Vaccination against rabies is very effective, whether it be given in advance, or after the bite. But if it is not started until after one has symptoms of rabies, it is usually too late."
Being old enough to remember Old Yeller (who in the movie became irritable and was foaming at the mouth), I've always had the impression you could tell a rabid dog from a healthy one. But this is NOT always the case.
Dr. Wise's advice is simple:
- Avoid dogs and other furry animals
- If you are bitten, wash the wound thoroughly
- Go for the best available medical care
- Call home to make sure you receive the proper treatment