What is rabies?
Rabies is a virus that causes acute, fatal neurological disease in all mammals. It is no longer present in the UK, but can be found in most parts of the world including mainland Europe. Therefore, if you want to take your pet abroad under the Pet Passport Scheme, a valid rabies vaccination is required.
Rabies infects all mammals including humans: ~55,000 humans die every year from rabies infection.
There is a very closely related disease of bats called European Bat Lyssavirus. This is found in bats in this country. Therefore, please avoid handling wild bats, especially sick bats.
What are the signs of rabies infection?
Once an animal or human shows signs of rabies, the disease is invariably fatal. However, it takes time for the virus to travel from the point of infection (ususally a bite) to the brain, so it is possible to be vaccinated AFTER infection. Once the virus reaches the brain, the infected animal becomes aggressive, then comatose, then dies.
When does my pet need a vaccination for rabies?
For return travel to most countries, your pet needs a pet passport and a valid rabies vaccination. Please see our travel clinic page for more information.