Dominica - Do they have rabies?

Out of curiosity I looked up Inter Caribbean Airlines and discovered that it was one of the worst and most unreliable airlines. Nice, now I started worrying about delays and cancellations without any information or everything else that one might think of. 

But soon an even bigger worry started to appear out of nothing and a delayed flight could eventually have prevented a terrible incident that I encountered upon arriving in Dominica, which was going to ruin my entire stay on the island. But more on that later.

Arriving in Dominica in the evening

On the late afternoon of my flight to Dominica, the weather in St Lucia had worsened, with thick clouds looming overhead. I feared that Inter Caribbean Airlines would cancel or delay the flight at the slightest hint of rain or sunshine, but that did not happen. The flight on the small 30-seater plane was actually ahead of schedule, and I landed in Dominica after only 30 minutes.

The arrival process went smoothly, and the airport was small, with immigration being quick, and understandable since there were only 15 passengers on the flight.

I picked up my rental car right at the airport, but due to darkness and the onset of rain, I decided to spend somewhere nearby, instead of going on the 1.5-hour drive from Marigot to Roseau this night. That way I also could enjoy the trip in daylight.

The incident...

Unfortunately, the evening didn't go as planned and shaped my entire stay. Upon arrival and just before checking into my accommodation, the property's dog actually bit me on the leg above the ankle.

In the darkness, I couldn't see anything, but the flashlight revealed a deep bite wound. My entire foot and shoe were covered in blood, and my white socks had turned red. All surroundings were pitch-black, with no streetlight, nothing, except for the flashlight. It was a horrible experience. I started to worry about getting rabies, tetanus, or nerve damage. Could I still go diving (which was probably the smallest problem at that point, I know)?

It was 10pm and the accommodation managers immediately fetched some disinfectant and drove me to the "hospital" which was 30 minutes away. It was a small clinic, out in nowhere, not well equipped at all and the tools they had didn't look like they are from this century. Two nurses stand there staring at my wound. It lasted another hour until a doctor showed up. It was a Cuban doctor (well at least a "doctor"?). They cleaned, disinfected, stitched, and dressed the wound. After that, I went back to my accommodation for the night.

Day 2 - Itinerary change from scuba diving to pharmacy

Although the wound was deep, it was luckily in a spot that wasn't too painful to walk on or drive with. The drive to Roseau took one hour, with lush rainforests and dense green forests everywhere.

Once I arrive in Roseau I had to find the pharmacy for bandages and antibiotics and a proper clinic to check the wound. 

So at this time, I couldn't do much else except see and wait. At least I knew my plans are completely messed up. I had planned to go scuba diving in Dominica but that plan is definitely from the list.

In Roseau, I went straight to the pharmacy to buy materials for wound care and antibiotics. The rest of the day was mostly spent resting and reading essays and researches about dog bites.

Do they have rabies in Dominica?

Not sure yet if I should consider myself lucky not to have a more severe wound. Aside from the wound I have no idea about the rabies situation in Dominica, but so far I've been told by two pharmacies, doctors, nurses, and even a vet, that they didn't have heard of for one or two decades. At this moment I didn't know much about rabies, but soon I realized it was maybe the scariest sickness human or animals can get. There is no cure for it. 

On the way to the clinic some sightseeing.

There were a few photo opportunities in the city of Roseau.

Day 3 - A visit to the south of Dominica

I went on a trip to Scotts Head Beach in the south of the country. The drive took 45 minutes and passed through small fishing villages, with great views of the sea and mountains.

I had planned to go diving today, as Dominica is perfect for it, but with my foot and antibiotics, it was simply impossible.

Just by looking at the coastal formations, it was clear that there were some amazing diving spots, with currents that weren't too strong.

One can drive up to the top of the hill at Scotts Head Beach.

I then drove back through Roseau. The roads need lots of concentration as they are all very narrow and have potholes every few kilometers.

Day 4 - All the way toward North of Dominica

As tomorrow's destination was Barbados, I had to be back in Marigot today, which was located on the other side of the island.

Just to be safe, I visited the clinic again to check on my bite wound and change the bandage. The nurse, who seemed a bit dazed, suggested removing the stitches. She muttered something about "You don't sew up a dog bite!" and pulled out a razor blade from a drawer along with pens and paperclips.

I intervened, wanting help but not wanting to risk further infections. My intervention frustrated her a bit. She threw up her hands, left the stitches in, disinfected the wound, and re-bandaged it. I will have to have it checked again in Barbados.

So I started driving.

After leaving Roseau, I drove up the west coast towards the north.

The return journey to Marigot was via the northern part of the country, along the coast, passing through Portsmouth and then over the mountain towards the east. 

Portsmouth was a nice small town in the north.

The drive was scenic, with lush greenery and dense jungle, before eventually descending back to the coast. 

From there, it was another hour's drive to Marigot, where I spent the night in preparation for an early departure the next day.

Before settling in, I decided to visit the accommodation where I was bitten, hoping to speak with the owners and identify the dog that bit me. I also wanted to know if the dog was still alive, or if I should be concerned about contracting rabies.

Day 5 - Departure to Barbados

Early in the morning, I returned the rental car to the airport and then departed for Barbados on Inter Caribbean Airlines.

Dominica is a wonderful island. Too bad I had this incident and cannot fully appreciate it.

Once I arrive in Barbados, the first thing I have to find is another clinic to check on my wound and that means also my whole plans for Barbados will be changed.

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