Expats in Shanghai urged to get rabies vaccinations

Published:  30 Jan at 6 PM
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Many expats visiting rural areas of China during the New Year festivities aren’t aware they’re at risk of rabies.

The Chinese New Year festivities are the perfect excuse for expats to travel to China’s spectacular rural regions, but a Shanghai hospital is strongly advising expatriates to get vaccinated against rabies before they take the trip. According to doctors working in the ER at Shanghai’s Jiahui International Hospital, expats are more at risk as they generally aren’t aware of the risk of rabies outside the country’s mega-cities. The same warning is being applied to expatriates visiting Southeast Asian destinations such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Doctors at the hospital told local English-language media they frequently need to treat expats who’ve been bitten by animals either in China or in popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Most, they said, have the common sense to fly back to China rather than risking being injected with badly stored or unavailable vaccines. China itself has the world’s second highest reported numbers of rabies cases, at present standing at some 2,000 deaths every year since 2009. It’s not just the expat population that’s uninformed, as Chinese nationals also seem not to understand the risk.

Jiahui is Shanghai’s only international hospital with a dedicated rabies vaccination programme, and as such is the only alternative to local ‘dog bite clinics’. These local clinics are found in each Shanghai district, and are busy administering 5,000 doses of vaccine every month of the year. Patients must visit between three and five times and it’s not a pleasant experience. The Jiahui clinic works using WHO rules, with three visits spread over three weeks and all precautions taken.
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