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October 21, 1983

The Epidemiology of Human Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis, 1980-1981

Author Affiliations

From the Enteric and Neurotropic Viral Diseases Branch, Division of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta.

JAMA. 1983;250(15):1990-1996. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340150032022

Little is known about the epidemiology of human rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), an important problem whether examined by the cost, the number of persons treated, or the public health resources required. Twenty-one states participated in a surveillance of PEP in 1980-1981. When state health departments were involved, PEP was given correctly to at least 88% of persons. The highest incidence of PEP was in young people up to age 15 years, males, and those in rural areas. Postexposure prophylaxis occurred primarily during the spring, summer, and fall months. The epidemiology of PEP varies depending on the source of exposure and age. Domestic animals and rodents-lagomorphs accounted for PEP far out of proportion to their small role in animal rabies. Postexposure prophylaxis can be prevented for many by not keeping wild animals as pets and reduced by having physicians consult with state or local health departments before starting treatment.

(JAMA 1983;250:1990-1996)