Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30454946
Link to DOI – S0264-410X(18)31420-810.1016/j.vaccine.2018.10.054
Vaccine 2019 10; 37 Suppl 1(): A118-A127
Rabies causes 60,000 deaths worldwide annually. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is highly effective but often geographically and financially beyond reach in endemic developing countries. We conducted a retrospective study on clinical outcome at ≥6 months in 3318 Cambodians who received intradermal Vero cell vaccine post-exposure prophylaxis after a bite by a rabid or sick-looking but untested dog in 2003-2014. An external expert panel examined verbal autopsy reports to identify rabies deaths. 1739 (93.65%) persons bitten by rabid- and 1066 (72.96%) bitten by sick-looking but untested dogs were traced and 513 were lost to follow-up. Among the former, 1591 (91.49%) and 129 (7.42%) patients referred for 4+ and 3 post-exposure prophylaxis sessions, respectively. Three persons died of probable rabies so that the overall percentage of survival was 99.83% (95% exact confidence interval: 99.49-99.96%) in post-exposure prophylaxis recipients bitten by confirmed rabid dogs. No significant difference was found in survival among patients who received 3 vs. 4+ sessions (with or without rabies immunoglobin). The power of the study, however, was limited. The current four sessions/one month intradermal regimen can be reduced to a three sessions/one week at no detectable added risk to patients, with the limitation of study power at 49%. A clinical follow-up system should be adopted by rabies prevention centers, especially to monitor implementation of an abridged course. The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia regimen will improve vaccine equity by treating 33% more patients with available doses, reduce direct cost of vaccination, transportation and other indirect costs to vaccinees.