Rabies or "rabies" is a viral infection of the brain or spinal cord that occurs in mammals, including humans. Rabies is a disease that is always fatal to humans and is contracted through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies occurs in many countries, including the western countries directly surrounding the Netherlands. You contract the disease on average one to two months after being infected. In the beginning of the disease, you will suffer from fever, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting and headache. Later, you may experience cramps or paralysis, neck stiffness, hyperactivity and convulsions. In about half of people, spasms of the swallowing muscles and neck muscles occur when water or saliva needs to be swallowed. You then develop hydrophobia. Together with increased saliva flow, this leads to foaming at the mouth. At a further stage, coma occurs, leading to death. Avoid contact with stray dogs, (domestic) wild animals and animal carcasses. Once you have been bitten by a dog, monkey or bat in a country where rabies occurs, you should always seek medical attention quickly, even if you have been vaccinated in the Netherlands. This is because you will need injections. If you have not been vaccinated, you will need antibodies as soon as possible, which are not available in every country.
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In the Netherlands, a 2-dose schedule is used for vaccination. If you have had this series of 2 vaccinations, you have long-term basic protection. If you have been vaccinated before travelling, you will still have to be vaccinated 2 doses when exposed to an infected animal. In some cases, even if you have had the basic series, a biennial revaccination is recommended before travel. Whether you need to be vaccinated, and if so how often, depends on the destination, accommodation conditions, your age and health status.