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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Information about Rabies Risk and Inoculation

Dear Andes & Amazon Students and Parents:

We would like to call your attention to the rabies pre-exposure inoculation. Please reference page 37 of the Andes & Amazon Course Preparation Manual for the following response:

Q: Should we get the pre-exposure for rabies?

A: We strongly recommend it for this course, but please consult with a professional physician first. Rabies is a uniformly fatal disease transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal. In the developing world, dogs are the most common carriers of rabies. Rabies pre-exposure vaccine exists and is effective, but even with these vaccines, exposure to rabies requires follow-up therapy. The pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for additional therapy after a rabies exposure; however, it simplifies therapy by eliminating the need for human rabies immune globulin (HRIG). HRIG, suggested by the Center for Disease Control as part of the post-exposure treatment, is NOT AVAILABLE in many developing countries, and families who wish to treat potential exposure with HRIG may have to evacuate to a country where HRIG is available. Students who have been inoculated with the pre-exposure vaccine will most likely not need to evacuate the country if bitten. Students who have not been inoculated with the pre-exposure vaccine and who require evacuation will incur evacuation costs not covered by Dragons. Please note: Rabies pre-exposure vaccine involves a series of shots which need to be started at least a month before departure. Please make sure to plan accordingly.

Our experiences in Latin America have shown that dogs are a prevalent risk that we actively mitigate through training and other proactive measures. However, we have also learned that in the case of a dog bite, HRIG is not readily available in most Latin American countries. Therefore, depending on the circumstances of the bite, students without the rabies pre-exposure inoculations would likely need to be evacuated to the US or a nearby country where HRIG is available.

While Dragons cannot formally recommend any inoculation, we want to clearly communicate the benefits of the pre-exposure vaccine, available through any travel clinic and through most family physicians, since in the rare event of an animal bite it may allow a student to remain in-country without program disruption and additional expense.

Sincerely,
Dragons Administration