Rabies is widespread in many parts of the world. Germany is one of the countries in Europe where rabies in wild and domestic animals has been almost completely eradicated by systematic control, especially by oral immunization of foxes as the main carrier of the virus. In Eastern Europe and other parts of the world, rabies remains a problem with wild and domestic animals.

Salivary transmission by bite or skin injury

The transmission takes place from the rabid animal via its saliva, usually through a bite, but is also possible over skin injuries or direct contact of the infectious saliva with the mucous membrane. Carriers of rabies viruses can be dogs, foxes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses, as well as bats. At the outbreak of rabies disease, this almost always leads to death.

For whom is rabies vaccination important?

  • Veterinarians, hunters, forestry personnel and anyone, who deals with animals in areas with wildlife rabies
  • Laboratory personnel at risk of rabies
  • Travelers to regions with a high risk of rabies (eg stray dogs).
  • Vaccination, if necessary with immunoglobulin (passive immunization), is also required after contact with virus-containing material (eg after bite injury). Ask your doctor or the health authority immediately.

Frequent reactions in rabies vaccination
The vaccine, currently recommended, contains the inactivated (killed) rabies virus and is well tolerated compared to previous vaccines.

Possible side effects:
frequent (1-10%) redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, mild to moderate temperature rise, flu-like symptoms or gastrointestinal complaints. Occasionally joint complaints (arthralgias and arthritis). Rarely allergic reactions.

Rabies can only be treated shortly after a bite
Rabies is a viral infection caused by biting or scratching wounds. At the point of entry, the virus persists for up to three days to multiply. Then the virus spreads to other organs via the central nervous system. If for example, it comes through the bite, it can spread more quickly. A rabies vaccine can only be effective in the first few hours after exposure. Once the virus reaches the brain, vaccination is pointless.

Rabies vaccination is the most effective health protection
Rabies viruses cause encephalitis, spinal cord inflammation, paralysis, delirium and other serious damage. After the first symptoms, death usually occurs within 10 days. The few survivors have severe brain damage. The rabies vaccine is the most effective way to prevent this infection. Note that this vaccine needs to be refreshed after 1-2 years at least in the risk groups.