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Review
, 131, 3-15

The Control of Rabies in Eurasia: Overview, History and Background

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  • PMID: 18634461
Review

The Control of Rabies in Eurasia: Overview, History and Background

J Blancou. Dev Biol (Basel).

Abstract

After a short overview of the present and past epidemiological situation regarding animal and human rabies in Eurasia, the general characteristics of the disease are described in each vector. Three main rabies cycles are presently established in Eurasia: in dogs, wild carnivores and insectivorous bats. Because of the strong barrier that exists between species-adapted rabies viruses and various potential hosts, these cycles are quite independent. They are perceived in many countries in Eurasia not to have a significant impact on animal health or the rural economy in general; the loss of dogs (or cattle) is not a priority animal health issue at the national level. Wildlife rabies has almost been eliminated in Western Eurasia by oral vaccination campaigns. Bats do not represent a real threat for a well informed public. Rabies is thus essentially a public health issue. Human rabies of canine origin has continued unabated for centuries in Eastern Eurasia, despite the Pasteur treatment and subsequent improvements of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis and biological products. Dog rabies, which is the main source of human contamination, remains practically uncontrolled. The Ministries of Health of all infected countries of Eurasia should focus their attention on canine rabies first, as it incurs endless expenses for treating humans that have been exposed to dog bites. These Ministries should use the competence of Veterinary Services and all other national bodies involved in dog rabies control, and contribute all necessary resources to support them to control this reservoir. This goal seems achievable in less than five years in a country, provided that cost-shared and well-planed mass canine oral vaccination campaigns are organised and coordinated at the regional and international levels. The conditions for the success of such campaigns are presented.

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