What is rabies?

And old man lovingly shakes hands with his dog in Zanzibar during a GARC vaccination drive against rabies.

The disease rabies is caused by a group of viruses, but the Rabies Lyssavirus (RABV) is the most important one in terms of public health, as almost all human and dog rabies cases are caused by this particular virus. 

In North America and Europe, rabies in wildlife (skunks, racoons, foxes, jackals, etc.) are also almost all caused by the RABV. Even bats in North America and vampire bats in South America are typically associated with the RABV. Most of the other viruses that cause rabies are associated with bats on other continents (e.g., Europe, Africa, Asia) and have resulted in only a handful of recorded human rabies deaths over the years. 

All of the work that the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) does focuses on eliminating the RABV from people and dogs globally. Everything mentioned on the GARC site and in GARC resources will relate to the RABV, unless specified otherwise.


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