Elimination of Rabies : A Missed Opportunity
Rabies is one of the oldest known zoonoses. Recognized etiological agents consist of at least 15 proposed species of lyssaviruses with primary reservoirs residing in the Orders Carnivora and Chiroptera. A plethora of viral variants, maintained by a diverse set of abundant hosts, presents a formidable challenge to a strict concept of true disease eradication. Despite the availability of affordable and efficacious animal and human vaccines, today however dog rabies continues to escalate unabated across much of Asia and Africa, causing millions of suspect human exposures and tens of thousands of human rabies deaths annually. By identifying what hampers global human rabies elimination this chapter emphasizes that, given the global epidemiology of rabies, the “One Health” concept is key to solving the problem. Next to state of the art human rabies prevention, immunization and experimental therapy, it is obvious that human rabies can only be eliminated through rabies control at the animal source. This ‘paradigm shift’, however, needs new grassroot initiatives as well as political will and the closing of ranks of all stakeholders in the near future.