Rabies


Prevent human by eliminating rabies in dogs
through animal vaccinations
This section provides information on one of the nine zoonotic diseases which have been identified by a experts in a national consultation organised by RCZI in June, 2008  as focus or priority diseases for the next five years.

Rabies is an acute viral disease of the central nervous system that affects humans and other mammals. Another name for the disease is hydrophobia, which literally means "fear of water," a symptom shared by half of all people infected with rabies. Other symptoms include fever, depression, confusion, painful muscle spasms, sensitivity to touch, loud noise and light, extreme thirst, painful swallowing, excessive salivation, and loss of muscle tone. If rabies is not prevented by immunisation, it is essentially always fatal. It is present on all continents and endemic in most African and Asian countries.

Humans are usually infected when they are bitten by an infected animal, or exposed to its saliva or central nervous system (CNS) tissues. Worldwide, over 90% of human rabies cases occur after exposure to rabid dogs. Over 40,000 human deaths are estimated to occur each year worldwide, most of them in the developing world (mainly in Asia), and an estimated 10 million people receive post-exposure treatment after being exposed to animals suspected of rabies. In countries with a high percentage of vaccinated dogs, they are much less important as a vector, and wildlife such as bats account for a higher percentage of the cases.

Canine rabies remains common in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. In the U.S., Canada and Europe, canine rabies has become uncommon or is absent, and most cases are seen in wildlife. Although rabies often occurs as sporadic cases in domesticated animals, epizootics are sometimes reported. In India, disease burden of rabies in animals, including domesticated animals and its economic consequences is not well estimated and documented.

Regional/ India Situation

  • Rabies in South East Asia Region. WHO SEARO
  • R L Ichhpujani, Chhabra Mala, Mittal Veena, J Singh, M Bhardwaj, D Bhattacharya, S K Pattanaik, N Balakrishnan, A K Reddy, G Samnpath, N Gandhi, S S Nagar and Lal Shiv. Epidemiology of animal bites and rabies cases in India. A multicentric study. J Commun Dis 2008; 40(1):27-36
  • Anon (2004a). Assessing the burden of rabies in India. WHO sponsored national multicentric rabies survey 2003. Bangalore, Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India.
  • Sudarshan, M. K., Mahendra, B. J. & Narayan, D. H. A. (2001). A community survey of dog bites, anti-rabies treatment, rabies and dog population management in Bangalore city. Journal of Communicable Disease 33,245-251
  • Sudarshan MK et al. Assessing the burden of human rabies in India: results of a national multicenter epidemiological survey. International Journal of Infectious Diseases (2007) 11, 29-35
  • Reece J.F., Chawla S.K. Control of rabies in Jaipur, India, by the sterilisation and vaccination of neighbourhood dogs. Veterinary Record (2006) 159, 379-383
  • New steps in the control of canine rabies in India

Recent Publications and Reviews

Confirmed and Suspected Outbreaks of Rabies