Rabies

More than 15 million post-exposure prophylaxis every year

In most countries of Africa and Asia dogs continue to be the main hosts and are responsible for most of the human rabies deaths. Most African countries report the presence of human and dog rabies in all or large parts of their territories.

Although all age groups are susceptible, rabies is most common in people younger than 15 years; post-exposure prophylaxis is given on average to 40% of children in Asia and Africa aged 5–14 years, and the majority receiving treatment are male. In the north of the United Republic of Tanzania, the incidence of rabies is 3–5 times higher in children younger than 15 years than in adults.

Every year, more than 15 million people receive post-exposure prophylaxis, mostly in China and India. In Thailand, the mass vaccination of dogs and widespread use of post-exposure prophylaxis have significantly reduced the number of human deaths from rabies. Post-exposure prophylaxis is thought to prevent more than 270 000 deaths in Asia and Africa.

With some exceptions, data collected at the national level are largely incomplete, notably for human rabies, and are often based on clinical observations rather than laboratory diagnosis. A number of African countries have a national plan for controlling rabies through dog immunization and population control, including post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent human rabies.

However dog vaccination coverage remains below the required threshold of 70% and the availability of human vaccine is limited, especially in rural areas.

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