Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease caused due to animal bits. The disease is known to affect domestic as well as wild animals such as bats, skunks, foxes, ferrets, raccoons, cats, or dogs, and infects humans upon contact with saliva of infected animal. Rabies is known to have an incubation period of one to three months. Individuals suffering from rabies show initial symptoms of fever and pain or tingling or burning sensation also called as paraesthesia at the wound site. As the disease progresses through the central nervous system (CNS), patients exhibit hyperactivity, excited behavior, hydrophobia. Rabies can also be paralytic and accounts for approximately 3% of all rabies cases globally according to World Health Organization (WHO). This form is usually misdiagnosed and has slower progression. Muscles near the wound site begin to paralyze; untreated infections lead to coma and cause death.
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WHO statistics also show that although rabies is prevalent in all continents except Antarctica, more than 95% of the mortalities occur in African and Asian countries. Rabies infections are common in areas where human-animal interaction is more and no proper medical treatment facility is available for treatment. In the U.S. only 55 cases have been identified since 1955 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rapid diagnostic tests are available for diagnosis of rabies. These tests are usually Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) or fluorescent assay technology. Synbiotics Corporation, O.K. SERVIS BioPro, s.r.o., Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. and Alpha Diagnostic International are some of the players manufacturing diagnostic kits for rabies.
Novartis and Sanofi are key players in the global rabies treatment market. These companies manufacture prophylactic vaccines for humans. Sanofi’s Imovax Rabies is a human diploid cell vaccine; while Novartis’s RabAvert is a Purified chick embryo cell vaccine. Vaccines are also available for preventing infections in animals. Merial a Sanofi company announced in July 2014 had it has launched PUREVAX Feline Rabies 3 YR vaccine. This is a non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine and provides 3 year immunity. The vaccine has been recommended for immunization of healthy cats 12 weeks and older. Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd, is also working on development of new generation rabies vaccine in India. Under-developed countries have initiated mass vaccination of stray dogs to control mortalities. According to an article published by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, Kenya launched a nationwide program for vaccination of dogs. Currently, more than 3,000 dogs in Makueni County have been vaccinated. In September 2014, The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA), the Australian Government and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) launched rabies control project to reduce rabies cases due to dog in the Philippines. Earlier in 2013, massive dog vaccination program was launched, which vaccinated 92,869 dogs and attained 80% coverage according to a press release by World Organization for Animal Health. An article published in The Maravi Post, Malawi also plans to vaccinate 500,000 dogs and cats to curb the rabies crisis. Such preventive programs will help in reducing the prevalence of the disease in lower socio-economic classes. With developing economic conditions and consistent government initiatives, the prevalence of rabies is expected to shrink in the future. Higher prevalence in the Asia Pacific and Africa provides larger customer base for players in the rabies treatment market.
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