The Ministry of Health in Tunisia has reported that a 9-year-old boy has died from rabies virus infection. The boy lived in the village of Borj Rass, Mahdia province in the central-east of the country on the coast. He was taken to hospital with symptoms of rabies on 15 November 2015, and died within the next 24-48 hrs. Investigation of the incident revealed that the boy was bitten by a stray dog in August 2015, unfortunately his parents did not seek treatment as the wound was considered not severe.
The regional health services have since administered rabies post-exposure treatment to 29 contacts of the patient: family, relatives and healthcare professionals. A mass vaccination campaign of pet dogs has been initiated, as well as culling of stray dogs in the locality.
Rabies post-exposure treatment is provided free of charge in 360 health facilities located throughout Tunisia and at the Pasteur Institute in Tunis.
Advice for Travellers
Tunisia is a popular destination for UK travellers and WHO considers the country a high risk area for animal rabies.
Rabies pre-exposure vaccine is available for those considered to be at particular risk. Vaccination would not normally be recommended for the average package/short stay holidaymaker, however travellers should be aware of the risk and avoid all contact with animals and report any bite promptly for medical assessement.