These recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) update the previous recommendations on human rabies prevention (CDC. Human rabies prevention---United States, 1999: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR 1999;48 [No. RR-1]) and reflect the status of rabies and antirabies biologics in the United States. This statement 1) provides updated information on human and animal rabies epidemiology; 2) summarizes the evidence regarding the effectiveness/efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of rabies biologics; 3) presents new information on the cost-effectiveness of rabies postexposure prophylaxis; 4) presents recommendations for rabies postexposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis; and 5) presents information regarding treatment considerations for human rabies patients.

These recommendations involve no substantial changes to the recommended approach for rabies postexposure or pre-exposure prophylaxis. ACIP recommends that prophylaxis for the prevention of rabies in humans exposed to rabies virus should include prompt and thorough wound cleansing followed by passive rabies immunization with human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and vaccination with a cell culture rabies vaccine. For persons who have never been vaccinated against rabies, postexposure antirabies vaccination should always include administration of both passive antibody (HRIG) and vaccine (human diploid cell vaccine [HDCV] or purified chick embryo cell vaccine [PCECV]). Persons who have ever previously received complete vaccination regimens (pre-exposure or postexposure) with a cell culture vaccine or persons who have been vaccinated with other types of vaccines and have previously had a documented rabies virus neutralizing antibody titer should receive only 2 doses of vaccine: one on day 0 (as soon as the exposure is recognized and administration of vaccine can be arranged) and the second on day 3. HRIG is administered only once (i.e., at the beginning of antirabies prophylaxis) to previously unvaccinated persons to provide immediate, passive, rabies virus neutralizing antibody coverage until the patient responds to HDCV or PCECV by actively producing antibodies. A regimen of 5 1-mL doses of HDCV or PCECV should be administered intramuscularly to previously unvaccinated persons. The first dose of the 5-dose course should be administered as soon as possible after exposure (day 0). Additional doses should then be administered on days 3, 7, 14, and 28 after the first vaccination. Rabies pre-exposure vaccination should include three 1.0-mL injections of HDCV or PCECV administered intramuscularly (one injection per day on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28).

Modifications were made to the language of the guidelines to clarify the recommendations and better specify the situations in which rabies post- and pre-exposure prophylaxis should be administered. No new rabies biologics are presented, and no changes were made to the vaccination schedules. However, rabies vaccine adsorbed (RVA, Bioport Corporation) is no longer available for rabies postexposure or pre-exposure prophylaxis, and intradermal pre-exposure prophylaxis is no longer recommended because it is not available in the United States.

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