Rabies

© Tomas Stargardter
The main route of rabies transmission is the bite of rabid dogs

Rabies is a neglected zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans), caused by the rabies virus of the genus Lyssavirus. With the exception of Antarctica, the disease is endemic on all continents. The highest case incidence occurs in Asia and Africa, where rabies potentially threatens over 3 billion people.

Rabies is a 100% vaccine-preventable disease. However, despite the availability of tools to manage the disease, rabies prevails to cause tens of thousands of deaths every year. The disease disproportionately affects poor, low-resource communities, particularly children with 4 out of every 10 human deaths by rabies occurring in children younger than 15 years.

fact buffet

Burden

150With the exception of Antarctica, rabies is endemic within 150 countries and territories, on all continents

WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies (TRS 982)

Risk

Highrisk of contracting rabies, particularly in rural areas of endemic countries

Global distribution of risk to humans of contracting rabies, 2011

Vaccination Costs

60–80%cost savings associated with use of intradermal vs intramuscular vaccines for prophylaxis

WHO recommendations for post-exposure prophylaxis

Factsheet

  • Rabies
    Fact Sheet No. 99, Updated September 2014

Second WHO report on Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

WHO–Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joint project

Human rabies prevention through dog rabies elimination in selected developing countries. A project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by WHO.

Rabies in the news

26 May 2014 | Geneva
A shortage of funds for vaccinating dogs is costing the lives of tens of thousands of children every year