Rabies is a virus that is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, either from licking, biting or scratches. Any mammal is able to contract and spread rabies. Animals with rabies live all over the world, except for Antarctica, so only travelers who are likely to be in contact with dogs, cats, bats, foxes or other carnivores should consider getting the vaccine. If your trip plans involve interacting with wildlife or domestic animals, camping or caving in parts of the world where rabies is common you may want to discuss vaccination with your doctor prior to traveling.


  • Flu-like symptoms (general weakness or discomfort, fever, headache)
  • Prickling or itching sensation at site of bite
  • Anxiety, confusion, agitation
  • Delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, insomnia

Once a person begins exhibiting symptoms of rabies, the disease is almost always fatal. There have been fewer than 10 documented cases of survival in humans showing clinical signs of rabies.


When traveling, it is best to assume that all animals, including domestic animals, are unvaccinated against rabies and to avoid touching them.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal you should seek immediate medical attention.

Visit the CDC’s Travelers Health website to learn more about the diseases you need to protect yourself against based on the type of traveler you are and your travel destination.

Additional Resources

CDC Traveler’s Health Tool