Travelvax Australia, a travel health advice service, has warned travellers heading to Asia, particularly India, Pakistan and Nepal, that rabies is more common than most tourists might believe, and that they should take precautions when approached by stray animals. Dr Ed Bajorovic, medical director of Travelvax, commented: “Most Australian travellers have no idea that rabies is a serious problem that they need to actively avoid. Because they have no experience with rabies back home, they don’t give it a second thought when they travel – they’re just as likely to pat a puppy in a market or feed monkeys at a temple without realising the potential danger.” He warned that a single bite is enough to infect someone with rabies, and once symptoms appear, it is usually fatal. Once bitten, he added, the challenge becomes knowing what to do and finding a place that has the necessary medication for rapid post-exposure treatment. “For many travellers,” he concluded, “a bite from an animal means returning home early from their trip. It’s the end of their holiday.” A recent study undertaken in Queensland of 136 travellers with potential exposure to rabies revealed that less than one in three received post-exposure treatment, and of those who did, many waited weeks before obtaining the drugs. For many of the travellers, the treatment they received while they were overseas was not considered to be in line with recommended protocols. The study also showed that just over one-third of exposures involved deliberate contact with animals, 31 per cent of people bitten received appropriate first aid at the time of the injury, and the average time between bite and treatment was 17 days.