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Int J Infect Dis. 2007 Jan;11(1):29-35. Epub 2006 May 4.

Assessing the burden of human rabies in India: results of a national multi-center epidemiological survey.

Author information

1
Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India, Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangalore 560004, India. mksudarshan@vsnl.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Human rabies has been endemic in India since time immemorial, and the true incidence of the disease and nationwide epidemiological factors have never been studied. The main objectives of the present study were to estimate the annual incidence of human rabies in India based on a community survey and to describe its salient epidemiological features.

METHODS:

The Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India (APCRI) conducted a national multi-center survey with the help of 21 medical schools during the period February-August 2003. This community-based survey covered a representative population of 10.8 million in mainland India. Hospital-based data were also obtained from the 22 infectious diseases hospitals. A separate survey of the islands of Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep, reported to be free from rabies, was also undertaken.

RESULTS:

The annual incidence of human rabies was estimated to be 17,137 (95% CI 14,109-20,165). Based on expert group advice, an additional 20% was added to this to include paralytic/atypical forms of rabies, providing an estimate of 20,565 or about 2 per 100000 population. The majority of the victims were male, adult, from rural areas, and unvaccinated. The main animals responsible for bites were dogs (96.2%), most of which were stray. The most common bite sites were the extremities. The disease incubation period ranged from two weeks to six months. Hydrophobia was the predominant clinical feature. Many of the victims had resorted to indigenous forms of treatment following animal bite, and only about half of them had sought hospital attention. Approximately 10% of these patients had taken a partial course of either Semple or a cell culture vaccine. The islands of Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep were found to be free of rabies.

CONCLUSION:

Human rabies continues to be endemic in India except for the islands of Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep. Dogs continue to be the principal reservoir. The disease is taking its toll on adult men and children, the majority from rural areas, due to lack of awareness about proper post-exposure immunization. The keys to success in the further reduction of rabies in India lies in improved coverage with modern rabies vaccines, canine rabies control, and intensifying public education about the disease.

PMID:
16678463
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijid.2005.10.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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