The rabies vaccine is used to both control rabies and prevent it from occurring in the body. The vaccine works on both humans and animals. Unlike most vaccinations, the rabies vaccine is effective even after the infection has occurred. The rabies vaccine is considered a part of the basic health needs by the World Health Organization and is part of their list of essential medications.
Until 1885, everyone who had been infected by rabies died from the effects until French scientists Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux developed the first rabies vaccination. It was first used on Joseph Meister, a nine year old boy who had been mauled by a dog infected with rabies. Joseph lived another 55 years after his treatment, becoming the first known person to survive rabies.
The Creation of the Modern Rabies Vaccine
The first work on the rabies vaccine began in 1967 and was known as the human diploid cell rabies vaccine. These are vaccines which are made from inactive or dead strains of the rabies virus. Since the development of this vaccine, over 1.5 million people have been vaccinated. In addition to humans, dogs have been vaccinated as well to prevent the spread of rabies.
Dr. George Beran developed and produced a dog vaccine in 1979 which offered three years of protection from rabies. This particular program was first developed and mass produced for the islands of Mindanao and Visayas where rabid dogs were commonplace. The success of the vaccinations led to the spread of the vaccine’s use around the world.
Developments of the Rabies Vaccine
Over the years there have been new developments of the rabies vaccine which has led to its greater effectiveness. For example, the development of the Vero cell rabies vaccine which was developed using purified Vero cells found in chicken embryos is highly effective and less expensive than its predecessors.
However in 1984, the development of the recombinant vaccine known as V-RG was developed with the insertion of glycoprotein gene from rabies into a vaccinia virus. This particular vaccine is harmless to humans and safe for many different animal species as well, including birds such as owls, hawks and gulls.
The V-RG vaccine has been used to counteract any breakouts of rabies in different parts of the world. This is because the vaccine is stable even at higher temperatures and can be delivered orally as well as injected. This means that wildlife can be protected from rabies by inserting the vaccine through the use of baits and other foods which can immunize the local population.
This has resulted in a substantial drop in the number of cases for rabies in Europe and other places where V-RG has been applied using this method. In fact, there are several countries including Germany that has resulted in very few cases of rabies being reported. The R-VG vaccine has now spread to countries such as Japan and India were the number of cases of rabies reported in humans has dropped significantly.
The development of the original rabies vaccine has certainly changed the way people have dealt with the issue of rabies as well as protecting the wildlife of the world.