What is rabies?
(Lyssa) is one of the oldest known zoonotic diseases; an animal disease
transmissible to humans. It is caused by Lyssaviruses of the family
Rhabdoviridae and can affect all mammals including humans.
Transmission occurs through
exposure to infectious saliva, i.e. bites, scratches, broken skin. The
incubation period ranges in general between 2 and 3 month (2 weeks to 6 years
are reported) depending on the site of infliction, the amount of virus and the
is widely distributed across the globe. More than 55 000 people die of rabies
each year. About 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa.
human deaths follow a bite from an infected dog. Between 30% to 60% of the
victims of dog bites are children under the age of 15. (See
its neurotropism all known lyssaviruses cause severe neurological symptoms (see
clinical signs). Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is
inevitably fatal to both animals and humans. However, rabies is preventable -
wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after
suspect contact with an animal and following
WHO recommendations can
prevent the onset of rabies in virtually all exposures.
Globally, the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people is by
eliminating rabies in dogs and wildlife animals through animal vaccinations. (See