Journal of Global Infectious DiseasesOfficial Publishing of INDUSEM and OPUS 12 Foundation, Inc. Users online:78  
Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size     
Home About us Editors Ahead of Print Current Issue Archives Search Instructions Subscribe Advertise Login 

EDITORIAL Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 201-202
State of the globe: Rabies is still rampant and needs action

Rabies and Wildlife Zoonoses Group, Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, Woodham Lane,Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication17-Aug-2010

How to cite this article:
Johnson N. State of the globe: Rabies is still rampant and needs action. J Global Infect Dis 2010;2:201-2

How to cite this URL:
Johnson N. State of the globe: Rabies is still rampant and needs action. J Global Infect Dis [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Dec 1];2:201-2. Available from:

Rabies is endemic within the dog population of both Africa and Asia, and there is little prospect that this will change in the near future. The estimated number of human deaths each year due to rabies infection is regularly quoted around the 50,000 mark. It could be more or it could be less, although the informed consensus is that it is much more. This uncertainty is due to the absence of surveillance or reporting in many countries of the world. In the absence of reliable information, how can countries assess the extent of the problem and implement a solution? Beyond the headline figures are the consequences of rabies, the many deaths, often of young children, and the fear of disease ensuing from a dog bite. By contrast, there also prevails a lot of ignorance on the best course of action to take following biting events. For those living in rabies-endemic regions or visitors to such areas, the disease is a major public health problem and one that requires more information before effective action can be taken.

Epidemiological information can be generated by assessing the numbers of people seeking treatment following an animal bite. [1] The article by Humphrey Mazigo and co-workers [2] in this issue illustrates this. Firstly, what is the extent of the problem? The authors have reported the number of people receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in response to biting incidents in a single region of Tanzania over a five-year period. Their report suggests a mean annual incidence of 58 cases per 100,000 of population, with the majority being children (55%). Secondly, which animals are causing biting incidents? In the study, over 95% of incidents occurred due to dog bites. Other species included the domestic cat, spotted hyena and black-backed jackal. Whilst wildlife can act as a reservoir for rabies and on occasion transmit disease to humans following a bite, dogs are the main problem; and resources need to be focused on solving the problem of rabies in dogs. Finally, what is the compliance rate for a full course of vaccination injections within this population? The authors assessed the compliance of those receiving the full course of three inoculations. Sadly, of the 767 individuals monitored, over 550 did not return to receive a second or third inoculation. This level of noncompliance reflects either a unwillingness to pay for a full course of treatment or a lack of understanding of the potential outcome of not completing the course. Both reasons undermine the effectiveness of providing therapy in resource-poor countries.

What action is currently being taken? A number of charities under the umbrella organization Alliance for Rabies Control ( ) are raising awareness about rabies, particularly through publication of useful information and promotion of World Rabies Day (September 10). Furthermore, a number of charities and experts are attempting to capture those actions that are required at all levels of government in the form of a blueprint that could form an effective rabies control and elimination plan. Details will be available shortly ( ). Coordinated public health campaigns can be effective at controlling dog rabies as evidenced by the example of Latin America, where strategic decisions were made jointly by countries to address rabies control. [3] These clearly need to include education about rabies and the appropriate response to a bite from a potentially rabid animal. This can include simple, inexpensive actions such as thorough wound washing to obtaining appropriate post-exposure vaccination. The World Health Organization recommends the use of cell-culture-produced vaccines rather than nerve tissue-derived vaccine, although problems including lack of availability, cost and compliance continue to hinder its effective application in many regions of the world. Yet it is the control of rabies in dogs that has proven the most effective way of preventing human infection. The challenges faced in controlling rabies in many countries are extensive, and there are as many reasons for inaction, although none of these are insurmountable. [4] Ultimately it will require action from countries themselves and those that govern them. Studies such as that described in this issue will enable the governments of rabies-endemic countries to recognize that there is a problem. Such studies also highlight the burden both financial and to health and development that rabies causes. Finally they quantify the potential benefits of controlling rabies through action.

   References Top

1.Kilic B, Unal B, Semin S, Konakci SK. An important public health problem: rabies suspected bites and post-exposure prophylaxis in a health district in Turkey. Int J Infect Dis 2006;10:248-54.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
2.Mazigo HD, Okumu F, Kweka EJ, Mnyone LL. Retrospective analysis of suspected rabies cases reported at Bugando referral hospital, Mwanza, Tanzania. J Global Infect Dis 2010;16:453-97.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Lembo T, Hampson K, Kaare MT, Ernest E, Knobel D, Kazwala RR, et al. The feasibility of canine rabies elimination in Africa: Dispelling doubts with data. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2010;4:e626.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
4.Schneider MC, Belotto A, Ade MP, Hendrickx S, Leanes LF, Rodrigues MJ, et al. Current status of human rabies transmitted by dogs in Latin America. Cad Saϊde Pϊblica 2007;23:2049-63.  Back to cited text no. 4      

Correspondence Address:
Nicholas Johnson
Rabies and Wildlife Zoonoses Group, Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, Woodham Lane,Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB

Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-777X.68523

Rights and Permissions


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  


 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded238    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal

Sitemap | What's New | Feedback | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice | Contact Us
2008 Journal of Global Infectious Diseases | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 10th December, 2008