Rabies is an endemic disease in animals in South East Asia. The disease pattern is that of canine rabies. Some local foci of sylvatic rabies occur from time to time in jackals in the hill districts of India, in Nepal and Bhutan. Occasionally also other sylvatic or domestic animals contract rabies, but this does not change the basic disease pattern.
South East Asia has a very high population density. Socio-economic and cultural factors in this part of the world favour the maintenance of a large stray dog population. It is therefore not surprising that a large number of people are bitten by dogs and many people die of rabies each year.
The disease pattern is the most important determinant for the development of rabies control programmes. In this region animal rabies is almost exclusively dog rabies. Therefore the main thrust of the control measures has to be aimed at the dog population.
The production of rabies vaccine in this region for human post-exposure treatment began fairly early in this century. One important event in the development of rabies vaccines was the phenol-inactivated brain tissue vaccine described by David Semple in 1919 at Kasauli.
In order to reduce the use of Semple vaccine more rapidly some other rabies vaccines, such as the suckling mouse brain vaccine, should be considered and the possibility of their production in the Region be studied.
Research and development in rabies vaccines in the last few decades has made great progress and given us a number of alternatives to the Semple vaccine. It is therefore possible within a reasonable time to improve the availability and quality of rabies vaccine, for human as well as for animal use.
KeywordsDisease Pattern Rabies Vaccine Human Rabies Hill District Canine Rabies
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