Emerging aspects of rabies infection: with a special emphasis on children

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Purpose of review

Increased awareness of the long-neglected rabies virus could promote the highly effective methods of preventing human deaths. Rabies and rabies-related lyssaviruses have recently been appearing in unexpected places, sometimes with dire consequences. Although rabies of canine origin remains 100% fatal in human beings, should the surprising recovery of a single unvaccinated child influence treatment now?

Recent findings

Evidence of rabies-related lyssavirus infection of bats is increasing across continents and with new virus types. Human rabies has been misdiagnosed as cerebral malaria, or even drug abuse. Organ transplant recipients have been infected. The first unvaccinated patient, a teenager, bitten by a bat, recovered from rabies encephalitis, but why might this be? Highly effective control and prevention of infection is possible. Preexposure prophylaxis for schoolchildren could now become routine. Improved economical intradermal postexposure vaccine regimens could increase the availability of affordable treatment in developing countries. Controlling dog rabies could prevent 95% of human deaths, but education and resources are lacking.


The risks and problems of rabies and other lyssaviruses vary greatly across the world. Knowledge of epidemiology and prevention could save the lives of victims of animal bites and promote efforts to control and even eliminate dog rabies.

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