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Health Agencies Update
September 16, 1998

Rabies Vaccine

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JAMA. 1998;280(11):957. doi:10.1001/jama.280.11.957-JHA80007-3-1

A DNA-based rabies vaccine provides complete protection against the disease in macaques, reported scientists at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Rocky Mountain Laboratories, in Hamilton, Mont (Nat Med. 1998;4:949-952). The new findings offer hope that such a vaccine could provide an urgently needed alternative to the conventional vaccine in developing countries, where rabies is endemic and most deaths occur.

Rabies deaths are relatively rare in the United States, due to widespread immunization of domestic animals and postexposure treatment with human diploid cell vaccine (HDCV), which is derived from rabies virus that is grown in cultured human cells and then inactivated. But because HDCV is expensive to produce and requires refrigeration, its use in developing countries has not been feasible.

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