Is There a Rabies Vaccine for Humans?
Pre-exposure immunization is recommended for people in certain high-risk occupations and traveling to rabies affected areas
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical signs.
There are effective pre-exposure vaccines for humans, but these are not recommended for the general population.
Rabies affects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva. In about 99% of human cases, the rabies virus is transmitted by domestic dogs.
Human rabies is rare in the United States.
Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.
Rabies cases are reported on most continents, but more than 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa.
According to the CDC, if a person is exposed, but has never been vaccinated against rabies, they should get 4 doses of rabies vaccine. The first dose should be delivered right away, and additional doses on the 3rd, 7th, and 14th days. They should also get another shot called Rabies Immune Globulin at the same time as the first dose.
The pre-exposure immunization is recommended for travellers spending time outdoors, especially in rural areas, with a significant risk of exposure to dog bites.
Pre-exposure immunization is also recommended for people in certain high-risk occupations that may have direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals in rabies-affected areas.
Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites, their immunization could be considered if living in or visiting high-risk areas.
Rabies is a neglected disease of poor and vulnerable populations whose deaths are rarely reported and where human vaccines and immunoglobulin are not readily available or accessible.