Open all pages about Rabies
You can get rabies if you're bitten, scratched or licked by an infected animal, usually a dog. It's found throughout the world, but is rare in the UK.
If you're at risk of getting rabies, you can help reduce your risk by avoiding close contact with animals and having the rabies vaccine.
If you're bitten, scratched or licked by an animal that may have rabies, early treatment with doses of the rabies vaccine can stop you getting rabies.
Symptoms of rabies usually take 3 to 12 weeks to appear. They can include hallucinations, difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing.
Rabies is a rare but very serious infection that affects the brain and nerves. It's almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
The rabies vaccine can be used if you're at risk of getting rabies (such as before travelling) or after being exposed to possible rabies.
The rabies vaccine is recommended for people travelling to places where rabies is common and for people at risk of getting rabies through their job.
Most people can have the rabies vaccine. You only need to avoid it if you've had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine or an ingredient in it.
You can check the ingredients in the rabies vaccine by asking to see the patient leaflet or searching for it online.
If you need the rabies vaccine for travel, you can get it from a travel clinic or some pharmacies. You'll usually have to pay for it.
You usually have 3 doses of the rabies vaccine over 28 days, but they can be given over a shorter period if needed. Most people do not need a booster.
The rabies vaccine provides some protection for around 95% of people who have it. The protection usually lasts at least 1 or 2 years.
Common side effects of the rabies vaccine include swelling or pain where the injection was given. Serious side effects are very rare.
The rabies vaccine helps protect you against rabies, a rare but very serious infection that affects the brain and nerves.
Page last reviewed: 08/02/2023
Next review due: 08/02/2026