Rabies Vaccines: Its Role, Challenges, Considerations and Implications for the Global Control and Possible Eradication of Rabies
Serology remains the only way to monitor the effectiveness of vaccination of humans and animals against rabies. Many techniques for determining the level of rabies antibodies have been described, including seroneutralisation techniques such as tests for fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation (FAVN) and rapid fluorescent focus inhibition (RFFIT), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and in-vivo tests (the mouse neutralisation test, MNT). The need to verify the effectiveness of rabies vaccination has become widespread, particularly in the context of international trading of domestic carnivores from infected to rabies-free territories. The standardisation of serological techniques, approval of laboratories and proficiency tests are key concepts to ensure the practicability of such systems. Serological tests for rabies are also often used by laboratories in infected territories to assess the efficacy of campaigns aimed at the eradication of the disease via oral vaccination of wildlife. The adaptation of these methods should provide the means to titrate specific antibodies in dogs during mass parenteral vaccination in countries infected by canine rabies. However, in most cases these serological tests are carried without any standardised procedure. On the basis of our experience in rabies serology and its harmonisation throughout laboratories worldwide, we propose here an adapted standard technique for the serological monitoring for rabies in wildlife at the European level. Such harmonisation would allow the monitoring of vaccination campaigns to be enhanced by increasing the exchange of epidemiological data, with the ultimate goal being the eradication of rabies in Europe.