3.2.3. Why does rabies need to be a notifiable disease?

Diseases like rabies are highly infectious and severe and affect multiple sectors (domestic animals, wildlife conservation, public health and livestock economies); therefore, it is important to make sure rabies does not spread. When rabies is notifiable in a country, surveillance data can be collected. Better estimates of the number of cases can then be made, ensuring a more accurate evaluation of the rabies burden in an area. Rabies needs to be reported so that infected animals can be swiftly identified, isolated and removed, reducing its socioeconomic impact and the risk of disease contraction in animals and humans. In the case of farm animals this makes individual farms more profitable and keeps compensation costs low (in countries where applicable). Surveillance data will also provide public health professionals with critical information to make informed decisions about saving human lives. For instance, in a number of countries, notification is used by health authorities to investigate possible exposures and organize post-exposure prophylaxis, quarantine and other disease containment measures. Rabies reporting and notification are also of value for the rapid identification of foci and the implementation of control measures if needed. Surveillance of human and animal cases includes reporting of suspect cases (based on the history and clinical symptoms/signs) as well as collection of samples for laboratory confirmation. Surveillance measures should also include reporting of human exposures by suspect rabid animals and post-exposure doses administered. Click here for more information on rabies surveillance strategies.

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017