Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19341608
Euro Surveill. 2009 Apr;14(13)
Rabies is a lethal encephalitis caused by a lyssavirus and transmitted from animals to humans via bite wound, scratch wound, or licking of mucous membranes. It is preventable by timely administration of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) consisting of four or five doses of rabies vaccine combined, in the most severe cases of exposures, with anti-rabies immunoglobulin (RIG). Although the rabies incidence in humans remains low, rabies is still present in some European countries. Moreover, rabid animals imported from enzootic areas are reported every year in rabies-free areas. These importations threaten the rabies-free status of terrestrial animals in western European countries and challenge the public health surveillance system and the health structures responsible for rabies prophylaxis and control. The importations frequently result in the prescription of a large number of PEP including RIG, especially in western European countries. The situation is inverted in some central and eastern European countries where RIG is underprescribed. Only a limited number of rabies vaccines and particularly of RIG are licensed for use in Europe. Their availability is also limited, a situation that may become worse in the future. It therefore seems important to study the possibility of comparing and unifying national PEP guidelines in Europe, if needed, and to generate effective solutions in the event of a shortage of anti-rabies biological products and RIG in particular, such as rationing these products.