oa Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases - Rabies in South Africa: where do we stand in 2015? : editorial

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2312-0053



Rabies. The word invokes divergent thoughts. Firstly, it is one of the oldest infectious diseases known to mankind with ancient scripts referring to the scourge of the rabid dog. Also the knowledge of how to control and prevent the disease has been understood for more than a century. Louis Pasteur showed how to prevent rabies virus infection by applying his crude nervous tissue vaccines in dogs and humans before the turn of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the question of why and how this highly fatal, but preventable, disease can then still be considered one of the most formidable zoonotic diseases in the world today is a burning one. A recent study estimated the burden of rabies globally and the figures are staggering. It is estimated that approximately 59 000 human deaths can be attributed to dog-transmitted rabies, with the brunt borne in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.1 This statistic relates roughly to a human rabies death every 10 minutes. The estimated global economic loss exceed US $ 8.6 billion with a substantial contribution due to the cost of rabies vaccines and immunoglobulin for prevention of rabies in exposed humans.

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