Rabies is mainly a disease of animals. Humans get rabies when they are bitten or scratched by infected animals. Rabies infects the central nervous system and is always fatal.

Rabies vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent rabies. There are a number of vaccines available that are both safe and effective. They can be used to prevent rabies before, and for a period of time after, exposure to the virus, which may be caused by an animal bite (esp. dog, cat, bat, rabbits etc). A long-lasting immunity develops after a full course of treatment.

Doses are usually given by injection into the muscle. After exposure, the vaccination is typically used along with rabies immunoglobulin. It is recommended that those who are at high risk of exposure be vaccinated before potential exposure. Vaccines are effective in humans and other animals.

Rabies vaccines are safely used in all age groups, there is no contraindication to its use after exposure.

The World Health Organization recommends vaccinating in those who are at high risk of the disease including children who live in areas where it is common. Other groups may include veterinarians, researchers, or people planning to travel to regions where rabies is common. Three doses of the vaccine are given on day0, day7, and day21.

For individuals who have been potentially exposed to the virus, five doses are recommended (at day0, day3, day7, day14, day28), as well as an injection of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) with the first dose. This is known as post exposure vaccinations. For people who have previously been vaccinated, only a single dose of the rabies vaccine is required. Vaccination after exposure is neither a treatment nor a cure for rabies; it can only prevent the development of rabies in a person if given before the virus reaches the brain. Because the rabies virus has a relatively long incubation period, post exposure vaccinations are typically highly effective.

Additional doses
Immunity following a course of doses is typically long lasting. Additional doses are not typically needed except in those at very high risk. Those at high risk may have tests done to measure rabies antibody in the blood, and then get rabies boosters as needed. Following administration of a booster dose, one study found 97% of immuno-competent individuals demonstrate protective levels of neutralizing antibodies at 10 years.

For more information about the above vaccine, please contact: 3911726.

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