Rabies in Haiti
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.
- 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.
- Consider getting vaccinated against rabies before travel.
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.
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.
Who is at risk?
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is rare, but possible, for people to get rabies from scratches, or contamination of open wounds, abrasions, or mucous membranes. Rabid animals may be infectious for several days before showing signs of rabies. Children may be at higher risk of rabies exposure because they often play with animals and may not report scratches or bites.
What can travelers do to prevent rabies?
- 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.
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
- Medical evacuation insurance can cover the cost of emergency travel home or to the nearest destination that can deliver appropriate care. For more information, see Travel Insurance: Peace of Mind While You Travel and Travel Insurance, Travel Health Insurance & Medical Evacuation Insurance.
If you get sick during or after travel
- Seek medical care immediately for all animal bites or scratches and tell your healthcare provider you may have been exposed to rabies. Once symptoms of rabies develop, it is nearly always fatal.
- If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.