Can Travel and Trade Affect the Global Epidemiology of Rabies?: A Short Review

Can Travel and Trade Affect the Global Epidemiology of Rabies?: A Short Review

K. Gokul Kumar (Department of Community Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India) and Anirban Chatterjee (Department of Community Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/IJUDH.2014100105
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Abstract

Rabies is an acute, progressive, universally fatal encephalitis, caused by a zoonotic Lyssavirus belonging to the family Rhabdoviridae. Although an infectious disease, traditionally, it has not been considered to be spread through international trade and travel owing to the absence of human-to-human transmission. However, cross-border animal migration, animal trade, and travel to areas endemic for rabies pose a chance of emergence of travel-associated rabies as a public health threat. Additionally, the fact that the developed world has eradicated canine variant of the rabies virus impresses the imperative that adequate surveillance is maintained to prevent re-entry and re-establishment of the virus. The current review looks at evidence around outbreaks of travel-associated rabies and examines the various levels at which travel-associated rabies poses a threat and proposes policy recommendations which could be adopted in a local setting to combat the emerging public health challenge.
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Epidemiology Of Travel-Associated Rabies

There is scarce literature available on this issue, mostly from the USA and Europe. Only sporadic case reports have been published from developing countries. Although it is difficult to have exact figures, a recent study reveals that 0.4% of travelers receive an at-risk animal bite for every month that they spend at a rabies-endemic country (Gautret and Parola, 2012). This could mean significant morbidity and mortality once the huge number of travelers (estimated to be almost 983 million in 2011) is taken into account. The development of the tourism industry, which focuses on areas that are still enzootic for rabies, especially canine and feline variant viruses, is a potential threat for importation of eliminated virus variant into the developed world (Gautret and Parola, 2012).

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