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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


PAEZ, Andrés et al. An outbreak of human rabies transmitted by a cat in the town of Santander de Quilichao, Colombia, 2008. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2009, vol.11, n.6, pp.931-943. ISSN 0124-0064.

Objectives A sylvatic rabies outbreak during March 2008 caused two human deaths in the town of Santander de Quilichao in Cauca, Colombia. This article describes the diagnostic laboratory techniques used, the field investigation and focus control used, as well as this outbreak's epidemiological significance and implications for public health. Methods Rabies was diagnosed by direct immunofluorescence, biological tests involving inoculating mice, histopathology and immunohistochemistry and then typed by using monoclonal antibodies. Field investigation focused on searching for human and animal contacts, identifying suspicious cases and conducting an institutional search for rabid accidents. Focus control consisted of post-exposure treatment of the exposed population, vaccinating dogs and cats, collecting and eliminating stray animals and educating the community. Results Two human rabies cases were confirmed in the laboratory and another was inferred in a cat by epidemiological nexus. Antigenic variant 3 was isolated from the human cases. 11,369 dogs, 3,325 cats and 217 humans were vaccinated. Conclusions This study confirmed that rabies in the wild represents a threat for humans. The outbreak described here originated in vampire bats and was transmitted to humans by a cat, pointing out the nexus between wild rabies and the urban ecosystem which cats represent, thereby becoming a target for rabies' control and prevention activities. This study underlines the urgency of implementing and maintaining rabies control and prevention activities in the wild to minimise its impact on humans.

Keywords : Rabies; Lyssavirus; Virology; Epidemiology; Zoonoses; Colombia.

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