England fans travelling to Brazil warned to vaccinate against rabies risk from stray dogs and vampire bats

14th May 2014

England World Cup fans travelling across Brazil and especially heading deep inland to the city of Manaus on the edge of the Amazonian jungle, have been warned to check their vaccinations are up-to-date with the heightened global threat of rabies, says travel insurance specialist Holidaysafe.co.uk

Severe cases of rabies have been on the rise globally for the past two years and in Brazil, there is the combined threat of the stray dog population in cities but also vampire bat bites closer to the jungle areas.

Once infected by rabies, the disease is incurable and fatal to humans. Symptoms may appear weeks, or even months after a bite, causing fatigue, headaches, fever, and irritability.

Holidaysafe.co.uk brand manager Amber Howard says: “Brazil is a wonderfully exotic location for the World Cup and its beautiful beaches and jungle will encourage many football fans to explore places off the beaten track. Tour operators will offer extra activities and though some fans may think their trip could be short-lived, England may progress beyond the qualifying rounds allowing them to stay for a full month. And this may encourage other fans back home to jump on a plane!

“Vaccinations are a must and rabies is a real threat in South America. Vaccines are available in the UK and travellers usually require a course of three doses for protection. In Brazil, vaccinations or boosters are recommended for a variety of potential diseases and viruses such as Yellow Fever, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, and Typhoid.”

The insurer adds that travelling fans must also be aware that they cannot expect the same treatment in public hospitals that they would in the UK under the NHS system.  In Brazil, public hospitals will treat emergencies free of charge but will not keep the patient once the initial emergency is over.

Howard adds: “If a traveller becomes ill and needs prolonged treatment, the Brazilian medical system will discharge the patient and send them home where relatives are expected to care for them. For a tourist this is not an option, so what happens if they are not fit to fly home? A suitable travel insurance policy will be able to provide advice and assistance, directing the tourist to a suitable aftercare centre, and assisting with additional hotel accommodation and replacement flights home.”

“We advise all travellers to Brazil and South America, on a longstay or shortstay vacation, to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Not everyone does especially those last minute fans desperate to support England during the competition.”

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