Pasteur demonstrated in 1884 that rabies was caused by an infectious agent, and he developed a rabies vaccine grown in rabbit nervous tissue which was used for active immunization.1 Refinements of this vaccine were in general clinical use until several years ago, even though allergic encephalomyelitis was a frequent complication of treatment.2 Rabies vaccine (duck embryo) (DEV) was developed to circumvent these side effects.3 Because the virus is not grown on neurological tissue, the allergic complications which sometimes accompanied the earlier Pasteur and Semple vaccines have been virtually eliminated.4 Systemic reactions to DEV have been rare, so it seems useful to report an unusual reaction pattern we observed in three Peace Corps volunteers who were given the vaccine prophylactically before going to Ethiopia.
Report of Cases
A 22-year-old white woman was given 1 cc of DEV subcutaneously. Within 15 minutes abdominal pain, malaise, nausea,
Kaiser HB, Sokol A, Beall GN. Unusual Reaction to Rabies Vaccine. JAMA. 1965;193(5):369-370. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090050045011