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The notification form to notify SA Health of post-exposure treatment for rabies or lyssavirus
The rabies vaccine helps protect you against rabies Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) and some other lyssaviruses.
The rabies vaccine is recommended if you are planning on travelling overseas to a country where the risk of catching rabies is high, please refer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website to see if you are going to a country where there is a high risk of infection.
In Australia, those in contact with bats are at an increased risk of ABL and vaccination is recommended. If you are at a continual risk of exposure, you may also require booster doses in the future, please speak with your doctor.
Post (after) exposure rabies vaccines are recommended to all individuals who have been potentially exposed to the rabies virus or Australian bat lyssavirus following a bite or scratch from:
Reports of exposure should be made PRIOR TO COMMENCING ANY TREATMENT WITH RABIES IMMUNOGLOBLUIN OR RABIES VACCINE, as soon as possible.
Treatment will vary depending on the type of exposure, previous vaccine history and any treatments that may have been commenced overseas at the time of the exposure. You may also need rabies immunoglobulin injected into the area around the bite or scratch to give you immediate protection.
The rabies vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, and the top of the arm from 12 months of age.
If you require rabies vaccine prior to travelling, or if you are involved closely with bats in Australia, a total of three vaccines will be required.
If you require post exposure treatment:
Once started, post-exposure rabies treatment must be completed unless directed by a medical officer in SA Health's Communicable Disease Control Branch, because the disease is almost always fatal.
Like any medications, the rabies vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.
Common side effects include:
Very rarely, you may experience a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.
Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:
To receive the vaccine prior to travelling overseas, contact your doctor or travel vaccination centre.
If you are seeking post (after) exposure treatment, urgently visit your nearest:
For further information on immunisation, contact SA Health's Immunisation Section.