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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Rabies (Human) in Colombia

06 Feb 2017

A media reportLink (in Spanish) of 3 February 2017 advised of a fatal case of human rabies in Colombia. The case was a 25-year-old woman that died in the San Ignacio de Bogota Hospital. The woman contracted rabies through cat bite for which she had not received any post exposure treatment.

This is the 2nd case of human rabies in reported in Colombia in the last 15 months and has caused alarm because health authorities considered the disease controlled (in humans) through the vaccination of animals. Rabies vaccine is free for animals in Colombia.

A total of 34 people have died of rabies in Colombia in the last 12 years.

Advice for Travellers

Colombia is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be a high risk destination for rabies.

  • Any animal contact in a rabies endemic area poses a potential risk of infection.
  • All travellers to rabies endemic areas should be aware of the risk of rabies and should avoid contact with animals (both wild and domestic), particularly dogs and cats.
  • Children are more vulnerable to rabies than adults as they are less likely to comprehend the risk of animal contact, less able to defend themselves from an animal attack and may not report a potential exposure.
  • Rabies pre-exposure vaccine is available for those considered to be at risk.