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Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis?

Posted by stujess on 26/7/2012 at 03:22

Have just visited the travel doctors today and he has scared me into second guessing my choice not to get vaccinated against rabies and japanese encephalitis. I wanted to get some opinions of more experienced travellers.

My boyfriend and I are going to be travelling through SEA and Nepal for 6 months starting in September this year. In this order Borneo - Nepal - Laos - Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand and possibly Myanmar/Burma with around a month in each.

I would happily get both vaccines if it were not for the cost $300 each in AUD.

We are hoping to get off the beaten path and we will be doing a lot of trekking, so we will be in remote areas and will sometimes be in situations where it wont be easy to get to a hospital. At the same time we are planning on being really careful about not going near animals/covering up with mosquito repellent and using mosquito nets.

Should I be worrying about these two? A lot of people on here say don't worry about getting them. I am leaning towards getting Japanese encephalitis because out of the two I am thinking it will be harder to prevent and identify. Also, does anyone know if it is a lifelong vaccine?



#1 stujess has been a member since 29/11/2011. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 6

Posted by svendj on 26/7/2012 at 04:12

Don't know for the rabies, I had the Japanese Encephalitis done back home (Europe) for about 20 euro at the doctor and it's good for 40 years so that's nice. Never had any problems with it of course, but if it costs you 300 AUD that's seems a lot tbf.

#2 svendj has been a member since 30/4/2010. Location: Belgium. Posts: 196

Posted by carolinesarah on 26/7/2012 at 04:32

I'm travelling for 6 months from Sept to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia and was told I wouldn't need Japanese Encephalitis as it will be out of season apart from in China but If I stayed away from rice fields in China I would be fine. Was advised to get the rabies vaccine though but I will be around animals.

#3 carolinesarah has been a member since 11/6/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by sitata on 1/8/2012 at 08:48

Many travellers choose not to get these vaccinations because of their high cost. Often these people are just fine because 1) They are not travelling during the high season for Japanese Encephalitis; 2) They avoid monkeys, bats, and other animals; 3) They don't visit remote places and stick to the beaten path and major cities/villages.

Japanese Encephalitis occurs year-round in many of the countries you are planning to visit with high season typically between May and October. Given that you plan to do a lot of trekking during September, we would recommend this vaccination.

As for rabies, if you do happen to be bit by a wild animal such as a monkey or bat, you would want to reach a hospital within 48 hours to receive treatment. Since you seem to be going to some remote areas, this might not be possible, and we would also recommend this vaccination. The vaccination is not life-long and booster doses can be received in 3 year intervals.

Overall, at Sitata we agree with your doctor's recommendations because you are intent to travel to remote places, off the beaten path. These areas are much more risky than say simply visiting Angkor Wat and then flying back to Bangkok.

Yes, most people will tell you not to bother, but their itinerary might be much less risky than the one you have described.

#4 sitata has been a member since 5/7/2012. Location: Earth. Posts: 5

Posted by Xircal on 1/1/2013 at 09:05

Worth keeping an eye on the CDC site too: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/thailand.htm

#5 Xircal has been a member since 24/12/2012. Posts: 95

Posted by TravelingDave on 14/2/2013 at 10:49

Your health is important so you need to be cautious. You don't want to have your time ruined by having to find a hospital the get the rabies vaccination.

It would be best to get as protected as you can before you leave Australia. Also try to consult another vaccination clinic as the prices are not nearly that high in Europe and the UK.

If you choose not to get vaccinated then try to get some information on how to deal with rabid dogs and monkeys. Also try to wear long clothes especially around dusk to avoid the bit that can lead to japanese encephalitis and always use DEET.

Hope this helped.

#6 TravelingDave has been a member since 13/2/2013. Posts: 15

Posted by Brute on 14/2/2013 at 12:53

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that even if you had the rabies vaccine, you had to get to a hospital if bitten? I thought it wasn't a be all end all vaccine, just added protection

#7 Brute has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 36

Posted by TravelingDave on 14/2/2013 at 13:19

My understanding was that a it made you immune for and lasted for 3 years? I will definatly double check with my local practise as all my online reasearch is giving me mixed rexults.

If you are right and it just gives you a bit longer then I would still recommend it incase you have to travel far to get treatment.

The vaccine needs to be kept cold and you could find yourself in an area with poor power sources, meaning it is compromised.

Still common sense should be used around strange animals. Even if they are not showing signs of the disease they could still be carrying it. Be especially weary of over friendly animals and never approach packs of dogs.

#8 TravelingDave has been a member since 13/2/2013. Posts: 15

Posted by TravelingDave on 14/2/2013 at 13:30

Ok i just had a talk with a travel clinic advisor and they told me that if you get the shots before you go then you only have to get 2 over the course of a few days if you are bitten.

If you don't get the shots then once you are bitten you have to get 5 shots over the course of a month plus an expensive 6th shot called immunoglobulin.

So it basically boils down to where you want to get vaccinated and what you would feel safe doing.

It is very unlikely you will get bitten but i always tend to stay on the side of caution.

#9 TravelingDave has been a member since 13/2/2013. Posts: 15

Posted by punx4life on 15/2/2013 at 17:23

I think there's a lot of misleading information (most often rooting from sheer paranoia) on rabies vaccinations around.

Though I would obviously advice exercising caution, I would like to share my experience.

I am travelling to several of those countries in a few weeks and I have personally opted out of rabies vacc.; my reasoning coming partly from the high cost (1/4 of my flight from my local practise) and having grown up in similar climes and not needing them.

To Ve, the above poster, I would like to clarify on your post. If you have had rabies vaccination before travelling you need 2 shots after being bit, whereas someone who hasn't will need 4 most often (Depending on weight I understand) - not 6 - and over the period of 14 days - not 30 - as opposed to the person who has had their shot before who will have their 2nd shot on the 3rd day. For me, it seems like I am saving on cost but sacrificing on convenience and a possible sacrifice on my itinerary it seems - not health.

The only downside I can foresee from my decision is having to keep the name and address of the local major hospital always at hand; always having contact number of my insurance always at hand; exercising caution when around animals; inspecting my body rigorously if suspicious of anything and rushing myself to hospital in an instant if I suspect anything.

ref: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-rabies.pdf (see Section 2)

#10 punx4life has been a member since 13/2/2013. Posts: 3

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