Maybe we should start. Rabies, an ancient viral disease that conjures up images of mad dogs foaming at the mouth, hasn't really gone away.
"Rabies continues to be a problem, more than most people realize," says renowned virologist Hilary Koprowski, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories and the Center for Neurovirology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "People think that because there are few or no cases of human rabies in this country, there is no problem. But people are bitten all the time by dogs, cats and wild animals that are susceptible to rabies."
The death of a Virginia man in March the first raccoon rabies-related human death underscores Dr. Koprowski's point.
What's more, he says, rabies control costs in the U.S. are soaring, approaching $1 billion a year.
Dr. Koprowski should know. Decades ago, he helped develop a life-saving rabies vaccine that replaced the painful series of shots in the stomach that those who were exposed had to endure. The vaccine, together with an effective public health-initiated vaccination campaign for domestic cats and dogs, has reduced the cases of human rabies in this country to a trickle. Today, Dr. Koprowski remains on the forefront of rabies vaccine research.
Dr. Koprowski has organized a week-long conference on rabies at Jefferson from Monday, October 20 to Friday, October 24. Experts from across the globe will discuss topics ranging from the current situations of rabies in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia to advances in understanding how the rabies virus causes disease to new insights into the epidemiology of the disease.
Contact: Steve Benowitz
Thomas Jefferson University