Rabies postexposure prophylaxis in routine practice in view of the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization recommendations

Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Jul;55(2):201-5. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis384. Epub 2012 May 1.


Background: New recommendations for rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization in 2010. In view of these new recommendations, we investigated the adequacy of rabies PEP among patients consulting our travel clinic.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of the files of all patients who consulted for rabies PEP at the Travel Clinic of the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, between January 2005 and August 2011 was conducted.

Results: A total of 110 patients who received rabies PEP were identified. The median age of the patients was 34 years (range, 2-79 years), and 53% were women. Ninety subjects were potentially exposed to rabies while travelling abroad. Shortcomings in the management of these patients were (1) late initiation of rabies PEP in travelers who waited to seek medical care until returning to Switzerland, (2) administration of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) to only 7 of 50 travelers (14%) who sought care abroad and for whom HRIG was indicated, and (3) antibody levels <0.5 IU/mL in 6 of 90 patients (6.7%) after 4 doses of vaccine.

Conclusions: Patients do not always receive optimal rabies PEP under real-life conditions. A significant proportion of patients did not develop adequate antibody levels after 4 doses of vaccine. These data indicate that the measurement of antibody levels on day 21 of the Essen PEP regimen is useful in order to verify an adequate immune response.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis / methods*
  • Rabies / prevention & control*
  • Rabies Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • World Health Organization
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Rabies Vaccines