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Epidemiology for public health - ISS

Rabies is a zoonosis caused by a rhabdovirus of the Lyssavirus genus. It affects wild and domestic animals, and can be transmitted to humans and other animals by bites, scratches and exposure to the saliva of infected animals through abrasions, broken skin or intact mucous membranes. Epidemiologically, dogs and foxes are currently the animals most involved in the urban and sylvatic cycle of rabies, respectively.


The disease manifests itself as encephalitis. Once the symptoms appear, rabies runs an invariably fatal course both in animals and humans: unless intensive care is provided, the patient usually dies within a week.


The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) currently includes rabies in its “List B” of notifiable diseases, i.e. "transmissible diseases that are considered to be of socio-economic and/or public health importance within countries and that are significant in the international trade of animals and animal products".

Publication date: 8 February 2021