Assessment of the human medical significance of the rabies zoonosis in Germany - analysis of available data and desiderata
In order to assess the human medical significance of the rabies zoonosis in Germany, the data of the relevant surveillance and of the registration systems as well as prescriptions submitted to the statutory health insurance (SHI) were assessed. In all, 2441 of the 81 280 total examinations for rabies conducted on animals were performed subsequent to contact with humans. In this context 54% of exposures were attributed to wild animals and 46%, to domestic animals. In 2006 and 2007 there were still 0.42 and 0.34 veterinary medical analyses per 100 000 inhabitants, respectively, subsequent to human contact. After the proclamation that Germany was free of terrestrial rabies, these indices dropped to 0.2 in 2009 and 2010. During the survey period, 21 700 doses of rabies vaccine were issued annually for SHI prescriptions on average; they would have been adequate for approximately 7230 complete courses of rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis or 4340 complete post-exposure treatments. For which of these two principal indications the vaccines were actually used cannot be determined from the SHI prescriptions. Taken together, the officially available data from rabies surveillance or registration systems even in combination with a nearly complete record of SHI prescription numbers did not allow an even nearly adequate reconstruction of the human medical significance of the rabies zoonosis in Germany. If one desired to achieve this, one would have to use, for example, an approach that is known from other European countries such as France, Finland, or the Netherlands.