Following a bite from a rabid or possibly rabid animal, preventive treatment involves administration of immune globulin for passive immunization followed by vaccinations over several weeks for active immunization. The only treatment after symptoms appear is rest and sedation. Dogs have been immunized from the time Louis Pasteur demonstrated a successful vaccine in 1885. Since then, human rabies has become rare in the United States and other industrialized countries due to comprehensive vaccination programs for domestic animals. In the United States contact with a bat has been the most common cause of the rare rabies cases since the 1980s, but globally dogs remain the most common cause of the disease in humans. Mass vaccination of susceptible animals in the wild with vaccine-laced bait has been used in an effort to control the spread of rabies in the United States and Canada since the late 1980s. A similar wild animal vaccination program has been used with some success in parts of Europe.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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