Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Human rabies surveillance and control in China, 2005–2012

Miao Song13, Qing Tang1*, Simon Rayner2*, Xiao-Yan Tao1, Hao Li1, Zhen-Yang Guo1, Xin-Xin Shen1, Wen-Tao Jiao1, Wei Fang2, Jun Wang2 and Guo-Dong Liang1

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

2 Key Laboratory of Agricultural and Environmental Microbiology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, Hubei, People’s Republic of China

3 Liupanshui Vocational and Technical College, Liupanshui, Guizhou, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:212  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-212

Published: 18 April 2014



Rabies reemerged in China during the 1990s with a gradual increase in the number and geographical dispersion of cases. As a consequence, a national surveillance program was introduced in 2005 to investigate the outbreak in terms of vaccination coverage, PEP treatment, and geographical and social composition.


The surveillance program was coordinated at the national level by the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CCDC) with data collected by regional health centres and provincial CCDCs, and from other official sources. Various statistical and multivariate analysis techniques were then used to evaluate the role and significance of implemented policies and strategies related to rabies prevention and control over this period.


From 2005–2012, 19,221 cases were reported across 30 provinces, but these primarily occurred in rural areas of southern and eastern China, and were predominantly associated with farmers, students and preschool children. In particular, detailed analysis of fatalities reported from 2010 to 2011 shows they were associated with very low rates of post exposure treatment compared to the cases with standard PEP. Nevertheless, regulation of post-exposure prophylaxis quality, together with improved management and vaccination of domesticated animals, has improved prevention and control of rabies.


The various control policies implemented by the government has played a key role in reducing rabies incidences in China. However, level of PEP treatment varies according to sex, age, degree and site of exposure, as well as the source of infection. Regulation of PEP quality together with improved management and vaccination of domesticated animals have also helped to improve prevention and control of rabies.

Rabies; Surveillance; Prevention and control; Policies