Brazil records deaths from human rabies and Butantan raises alarm

At least two people have died from human rabies this year in Brazil alone. Recent cases of the disease highlight the lethal potential of the virus and the importance of vaccination before and after exposure.

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This year’s cases

At least two men contracted rabies in Brazil this year: one after contact with an infected calf in Mantena (MG) and another after being bitten by a marmoset in Cariús (CE).

Both died.


  • The rabies virus is well known in the literature and is called the “madness virus”. The first records of occurrences are from the year 23 before Christ.
  • The infection is caused by a virus of the Rabhdoviridae family, of the genus Lyssavirus, and affects mammals, such as cattle, bats, dogs and cats, some primates, in addition to humans.
  • The infection can affect the central nervous system of mammals and is transmitted to humans by the bite, scratch or contact with the saliva of an infected animal.
  • In rarer cases, it can occur by transplanting organs from infected people or by aerosols from caves with infected bats.
  • The infection kills virtually 100% of unvaccinated animals and people before or after the incident.
A vaccination campaign against rabies in dogs and cats reduces the incidence of the virus (Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

rabies vaccine

According to the Process Development manager of the pilot laboratory of viral vaccines at the Butantan Institute, Neuza Frazatti Gallina, the vaccine is indicated in two cases.

Vaccination against human rabies has two indications: indicated to prevent contamination by the rabies virus of professionals such as veterinarians, biologists, laboratory workers and professionals who work at risk of being contaminated either by capturing or vaccinating animals, or by working in zoos, among other functions, in a pre-exposure scheme; and the post-exposure schedule for being attacked by a rabid animal.

Neuza Frazatti Gallina

The vaccine in question is from Butantan and earned the manager important awards.

transmission risk

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rabies still kills 70,000 people a year worldwide.

In Brazil, the incidence of the infection is still rare, but it grew again in 2022, with five new cases among humans since then. Since 1986, there are 45 occurrences.

With the vaccination of pets, such as dogs and cats, the risk of transmission is low. However, the advance of urbanization and contact with wild animals increases the need for care. After all, the virus still circulates among them. In addition, bats transmit rabies, and if they bite animals that come into contact with humans, transmission can also happen.

Butantan Institute raises awareness about the rabies transmission cycle (Infographic: Daniel das Neves)


However, according to Neuza Frazatti Gallina, the deaths happen due to the population’s lack of knowledge, since the pre- or post-exposure vaccine, added to the serum, can save lives.

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2023-05-30 02:48:00