Demand for rabies prophylaxis increasing
ANIMAL bites and scratches are leading to regular demand for post-exposure rabies/lyssavirus prophylaxis, even in urban Australia, a study suggests.
A review of relevant case files in the Sydney South West Area Health Service found 39 cases in two years in which a five-dose course of treatment was required to prevent rabies or Australian bat lyssavirus.
Most cases were travellers returning from Asia who had been exposed after being bitten by monkeys, dogs, cats or mice.
However, nine exposures occurred in Australia, including eight from bat bites or scratches and one from a dog imported from Italy.
Adam Craig, a public health officer from the NSW Department of Health, presented the information in a poster at the Population Health Congress 2008 held in Brisbane last week.
He noted that in 29% of cases, including half the Australian bat exposures, people had been bitten or scratched after provoking the animal.