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Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

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Oakland, California
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Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

We're planning a 10-day trip to Antigua, and we have two kids, ages 2 and 5. The cdc recommends that all children traveling to Guatemala get fully vaccinated for rabies. I ordinarily follow cdc recommendations to the letter, but then I found out that it will cost us $930 per kid to get the rabies vaccine. What the WHAT?!? So we are either going to cancel our trip or go without vaccinating the kids for rabies. Here are my questions...

1. If you have traveled to Guatemala with kids and made this decision, can you tell me whether or not you vaccinated and why? I've been researching and even called the cdc for extra info, but I'm not finding much. And the folks at the cdc just kept saying, "it's a precaution we recommend, but you can decide whether or not you want to take that precaution."

2. Can you describe the dog population in Antigua? I have traveled to many Latin American cities that have packs of roving stray dogs. Is Antigua like that? I'm trying to get a sense of what the actual risk of a close encounter with a dog or bat would be in Antigua itself (as opposed to the whole country).

3. Can you recommend a hospital or clinic where we should seek medical treatment if we do end up going and someone gets bitten? We'd like to be prepared.

Thanks, all. Really appreciate the help provided in this forum.

Burbank, California
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1. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

So strange, I've never heard this before. I just came back from vacation there. I have been to Antigua many many times and have never seen a pack of stray dogs, sure there's an occasional dog, but nothing i wouldn't see anywhere else. My uncle has a house here and so I go about every 18 months or so. I have never even heard of anyone being attacked by a dog. We were traveling with a 4 year old and a 12 month old, biggest animal problem we had were mosquitoes.

Central America
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2. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

Have lived in Guatemala and the region for many years...I've never heard of a human being vaccinated for rabies. Being prepared is good, but this is a bit over the top.

There is excellent medical care available in Guatemala City.

Central America
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3. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

Did a bit more research. From 2005 - Oct 2009 there were 6 total confirmed cases of human rabies infection in Guatemala. Given a population of around 14 million, odss are extremely low. but of course it can be fatal.

In all confirmed cases, dogs were the vector.

I live in the Izabal department which was categorized as "high risk"by one report....although none of the cases over this 4 year period were from there nor have I ever heard of a human case there (and I have a good friend who is a vet who would likely alert me of such). I've managed to survive rabies free there for almost a decade and Ive got 5 dogs (although much better cared for than the average Guate dog).

So, my 2c, I think traveling without rabies vaccination is low risk, but with kids you should exercise more caution. Your kids and your call of course, but seems quite reasonable to me.

Link to a bit dated, and longish, but informative report:

…umontreal.ca/infoGen/international/giv/word…

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

There also was a case last year in a Guatemalan migrant who developed rabies while being detained by the ICE, aka La Migra, in Texas. I'm not aware of any rabies cases among US tourists to Guatemala, but the prevalence of infected dogs results in the country being classified as "high risk" by the CDC and its UK counterpart.

Eau Claire, WI
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5. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

I traveled with my three daughters (youngest age 5) and a friend and her daughter (age 3 1/2) in March 2014. Our doctors also mentioned the OPTION of rabies vaccine. The problem, as I was advised, is that they do not have the rabies treatment available locally, so that if someone got an animal bite, we would likely need to return to the US (or somewhere with the treatment) within 24 hours. We chose NOT to do the vaccine (due to cost) and never felt concerned about random dogs or animals. We were in Antigua and on the pacific coast (where there were dogs and cats) but had no concerns about rabid animals.

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

Postexposure rabies immunization is available in Guatemala, and in fact many thousands of patients receive it annually. It may be difficult, however, to obtain in the more remote areas. The real concern pertains to young children who cannot be relied on to report possible exposures that do not result in a visible wound.

7. Re: Rabies vaccine for travel to Antigua with kids?

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