Rabies in Haiti

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

As the COVID-19 situation around the world changes, CDC is monitoring COVID-19 risk in each country and making travel recommendations. If you are considering international travel, see CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

Key points

  • Rabies in dogs is increasing in Haiti.
  • To prevent rabies, travelers should avoid all contact with dogs and cats (including puppies and kittens) while in Haiti.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for all animal bites or scratches.
  • Because human rabies vaccine is in limited supply in Haiti, if you are bitten, scratched, or licked by an animal, you may be unable to get appropriate care (called postexposure prophylaxis [PEP]).
  • Consider getting vaccinated against rabies before travel.
Haiti
Map: Haiti  (see larger map)
What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) in mammals. It is mainly spread through bites and scratches from infected animals such as dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, or pain in the arms and legs. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.

Seek emergency medical care immediately after any possible rabies exposure. Once symptoms of rabies develop, no treatment is available, and it is nearly always fatal.

What is the current situation?

Annual dog vaccination campaigns have been interrupted in Haiti and health officials have reported an increase of rabies in dogs there. Human rabies vaccine is also limited in Haiti, so if you are exposed to rabies, you may not be able to get appropriate treatment.

Who is at risk?

Annual dog vaccination campaigns have been interrupted in Haiti and health officials have reported an increase of rabies in dogs there. Human rabies vaccine is also limited in Haiti, so if you are exposed to rabies, you may not be able to get appropriate treatment.

What can travelers do to prevent rabies?

Avoid animals

  • Don’t touch dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, or other animals, even if they are pets. Even animals that appear healthy can spread rabies.
  • Supervise children closely, especially around dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, and wildlife.
  • Vaccinate pets against rabies before travel. Do not allow pets around other animals.
  • Bring and wear appropriate protective gear if working with animals.
  • For more information, see Be Safe Around Animals.

Act quickly if bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal

  • Wash all bites and scratches immediately with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for all animal bites or scratches, even if
    • You don’t feel sick.
    • The wound does not look serious.
    • You were vaccinated against rabies before travel.
  • Rabies is nearly always fatal if left untreated but can be prevented by getting appropriate PEP as soon as possible after exposure and before symptoms start.
  • Be prepared to travel to the United States (or another area) to receive PEP.

Consider pre-travel rabies vaccine

  • If possible, get vaccinated against rabies before travel. The preexposure rabies vaccine series is given as three shots over three to four weeks.
  • People who receive the complete preexposure rabies vaccine series
    • Still require immediate medical attention after any animal bite or scratch.
    • May be partially protected until they get medical attention.

Consider medical evacuation insurance

If you get sick during or after travel

Traveler Information

Clinician Information