Author(s): Nagarajan T
Rabies, being a major zoonotic disease, significantly impacts global public health. It is invariably fatal once clinical signs are apparent. The majority of human rabies deaths occur in developing countries. India alone reports more than 50% of the global rabies deaths. Although it is a vaccine-preventable disease, effective rabies prevention in humans with category III bites requires the combined administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) and vaccine. Cell culture rabies vaccines have become widely available in developing countries, virtually replacing the inferior and unsafe nerve tissue vaccines. Limitations inherent to the conventional RIG of either equine or human origin have prompted scientists to look for monoclonal antibody-based human RIG as an alternative. Fully human monoclonal antibodies have been found to be safer and equally efficacious than conventional RIG when tested in mice and hamsters. In this chapter, rabies epidemiology, reservoir control measures, post-exposure prophylaxis of human rabies, and combination therapy for rabies are discussed. Novel human monoclonal antibodies, their production, and the significance of plants as expression platforms are emphasized.