Vaccinating against rabies: countries urged to use cell-culture-based vaccines
An update to WHO's position paper on rabies vaccines, published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record today, emphasizes the importance of the cessation of production and use of nerve-tissue rabies vaccines as soon as possible in favour of the more efficacious and safer cell-culture-based vaccines. Cell-culture-based vaccines are intended for both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, and have been administered to millions of people worldwide.
Intradermal immunization using cell-culture-based rabies vaccines is an acceptable alternative to standard intramuscular administration. Intradermal vaccination has been shown to be as safe and immunogenic as intramuscular vaccination, yet requires less vaccine, for both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, leading to lower direct costs. This alternative should thus be considered in settings constrained by cost and/or supply issues.
Rabies is a zoonotic, viral disease that occurs in over 100 countries and territories. It is estimated that the great majority of the estimated 55 000 deaths caused by rabies each year occur in rural areas of Asia and Africa. Although all age groups are susceptible, rabies is most common in children aged less than 15 years of age.