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More than 99% of all human rabies deaths in the world occur in tropical developing countries. In India alone, 30,000 to 50,000 people may die of rabies each year. The Lyssaviruses (Family Rhabdoviridae) include rabies and rabies-related viruses, 3 of which have caused human disease. Rabies is a zoonosis, principally affecting domestic and stray dogs in most parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In North America, southern Africa, parts of the Caribbean and Europe, the principal mammalian reservoir species are wild carnivores. The pathogenesis, clinical features and differential diagnosis of rabies are discussed. The planning of rabies control strategies requires background information on the distribution and incidence of rabies in animals and the species involved. In some parts of the world, such as Latin American cities, most domestic dogs, even apparent strays, have an owner and can be immunized with conventional canine vaccines during well publicized campaigns. However, in areas such as India, where there may be a high proportion of stray domestic dogs without owners, and in those areas where wild mammals are the principal reservoir species, immunization may be possible using live attenuated or recombinant oral vaccines distributed in baits. In the poor tropical developing countries, unsatisfactory nervous tissue vaccines are still widely used. However, economical multisite intradermal regimens using tissue culture vaccines have proved effective and have begun to replace nervous tissue vaccines in some countries.



Schweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift

Publication Date





879 - 885


Centre for Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, United Kingdom.


Animals, Animals, Wild, Dogs, Humans, Zoonoses, Rabies, Dog Diseases, Rabies Vaccines, Tropical Climate, Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia