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Korean Journal of Epidemiology 2005;27(1): 53-68.
Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies of Rabies in Korea.
Joong Bok Lee, Hun Jae Lee, Bang Hun Hyun, Ji Hwan Bang, Kyung Ok Nam, Young Eui Jeong, Young Hack Shin
1Department of Infectious Disease, College of VeterinaryMedicine, Konkuk University.
2Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, College ofMedicine, Inha University. lee4146@inha.ac.kr
3Animal Disease Diagnosis Division, National VeterinaryResearch and Quarantine Service.
4Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National UniversityHospital.
5Laboratory of Arboviruses, Korean Center for Disease Controland Prevention.
Rabies is a uniformly fatal encephalitis and cannot be treated, therefore efforts must be focused on preventing the disease. The incidence of rabies in humans and animals has decreased with the introduction of rabies vaccination for animals since the early 1950s in Korea. There was no rabies occurrence either in human or animal for 8 years from 1985 to 1992. However, a case of animal rabies recurred in 1993. Since then, rabies endemic areas were expanded into 17 counties near the demilitarized zone, and 6 human cases were reported from the endemic areas of animal rabies. According to epidemic studies, wild raccoon dogs were suspected to be the transmission source of rabies in dogs, domestic animals, and other wild animals, which resulted in human rabies. Rabies prevention strategies were aimed at the animals capable of transmitting rabies or vaccination for the high risk group and postexposure prophylaxis for the bitten patients. Unfortunately, these activities were not conducted appropriately and substantially. All rabies victims were either not treated or did not receive timely and appropriate postexposure treatment. Prevention of rabies can only be achieved by securing political and financial support for an effective rabies program. Key activities for rabies prevention should include changing current public perception regarding rabies, strengthening surveillance for the exposed person to suspected rabid animals, and laboratory-based rabies surveillance.
Keywords: Rabies; Epidemiology; Prevention; Vaccine; Immunoglobulin


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