Background: Authorities have pledged to eliminate canine rabies by 2020 in Cambodia, a country with a very high rabies burden. Logistic and financial access to timely and adequate postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) is essential for preventing rabies in humans.
Methods: We undertook a survey of the few identified sites where PEP rabies vaccination and rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) are available in Cambodia. We examined the Rabies Prevention Center at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (rpc@ipc) database and rpc@ipc order forms for 2012 to assess vaccine and RIG use. We conducted a rapid internet survey of centers that provide rabies vaccine and RIG in Cambodia, other than rpc@ipc.
Results: The cost of a full course of intramuscular or intradermal PEP in Cambodia, with and without RIG, was also estimated. Rabies vaccination is free of charge in one foundation hospital and is accessible for a fee at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC), some institutions, and some Cambodian private clinics. In 2012, 27,500 rabies vaccine doses (0.5 mL) and 591 equine RIG doses were used to provide intradermal PEP to 20,610 persons at rpc@ipc following animal bites. Outside of rpc@ipc, an estimated total of 53,400 vaccine doses and 200 RIG doses were used in Cambodia in 2012. The wholesale cost of full rabies PEP was estimated at 50% to 100% of a Cambodian farmer's monthly wage.
Conclusions: Local populations and travelers cannot be sure to locally access adequate and timely PEP due to high costs and low access to RIG. Travelers to high-endemic areas such as Cambodia are strongly encouraged to undergo pre-exposure vaccination or seek expert advice, as per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. State-subsidized, pre-positioned stocks of human vaccine and RIG in bite management centers would extend the rabies prevention centers network. Support from Institut Pasteur du Cambodge for staff training, cold chain, and quality control would contribute to reducing the risk of rabies deaths in Cambodia.
© 2015 International Society of Travel Medicine.