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Vaccine. 2005 Mar 18;23(17-18):2284-9.

Rabies control in South and Southeast Asia.

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Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society, (WHO Collaborating Center) and Department of Medicine, King Chulalongkorn University Hospital, 1871 Rama IV Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.


We have the knowledge and tools to eliminate the threat of canine rabies but this disease, nevertheless, remains a public health threat in many parts of the world. Lack of motivation by governments, cultural issues and inadequate funding remain barriers. This is amazing since the number of human rabies deaths worldwide is greater than that from polio, meningococcal meningitis, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, SARS, bird flue and other scourges that attract more attention. Safe and effective vaccines are now widely available. Reduced dose effective and less expensive post-exposure vaccination regimens have helped eliminate nerve tissue vaccines in Thailand, Philippines and Sri Lanka. India and Pakistan, the major users of dangerous nerve tissue derived Semple type vaccine, are now considering following suite. Immediate wound care and prompt use of a potent vaccine will save a majority of infected persons. Rabies immunoglobulin, injected into and around bite wounds, provides added safety for the severely exposed. The high cost of rabies immunoglobulin and tissue culture vaccines are remaining barriers, but new manufacturers and the use of intradermal vaccination schedules can reduce costs. Ultimately, it is the need to control rabies in dogs that must occupy most of our attention. The tools are available, but attitudes must change before they can be applied. There have been many new developments since publication of the last WHO rabies expert committee report in 1992 (new version in print)] and we will address those that have practical applicability.

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