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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Rabies (Human) in China (Update)

13 Dec 2012

There have been 13 human deaths from rabies virus infection in Beijing in 2012. This compares with a total of 5 human deaths from rabies in 2011. Of the 13 cases, most had been bitten by pet dogs rather than strays and 12 out of 13 did not seek medical attention following the bite. The 13th case died from rabies before completing post-exposure prophylaxis.

Residents of Beijing are encouraged to register their pets at the police station which means that rabies vaccination of their dog is provided free of charge; however, there is a charge to register the dog. Around 20% of dogs in Beijing are vaccinated against rabies.

Advice for Travellers

Visitors to Beijing City should be aware that rabies infection is still prevalent in the canine population despite stringent controls. All contact with animals should be avoided and any bites sustained must be assessed carefully immediately. Pre-exposure rabies vaccine may be considered for travellers to China.