Adventure Medicine

You survive a plane crash in the Amazon? Who cares! What's far more likely to go wrong during an international journey is injuries and illnesses that would be easy to manage close to home but are much trickier on the far side of paradise. Here are seven frequent scenarios and how to handle them.

    Photo: Photograph by Louie Psihoyos/Corbis

You Get Bitten by the Village Dog
He looked awfully cute and friendly, then...snap!
DEAL WITH IT: If the teeth (or claws) broke the skin, even slightly, count it as exposure. Once symptoms develop, the rabies virus is incurable and nearly always lethal. Though incubation periods vary, you'd better hightail it to a hospital with human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and a rabies vaccine, or call the U.S. embassy, which will have access to post-exposure treatments or be able to steer you in the right direction.
AVOID IT: Keep your distance from street dogs, of course. Overall, the odds of animal bites are low (in Nepal, the World Health Organization counted32 rabies deaths in all of 2007), and the vaccines are costly—up to $700. But if you're going someplace where there are higher rates of animal bites—like Southeast Asia or India—the pre-trip vacs may be worth the peace of mind.

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