Rabies is a virus commonly found in wild animals in the U.S., especially in bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and foxes. The virus can be transmitted in the saliva of a rabid animal to a person through a bite or open wound. Worldwide, approximately 55,000 people die each year of rabies, and nearly half are children.
In the policy statement, "Rabies Prevention Policy Update: New Reduced-Dose Schedule," published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 28), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend reducing the number of doses from 5 to 4 of human diploid cell vaccine or purified chick embryo cell vaccine required for postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent rabies in humans. The first dose should be given on day 0 of the PEP series (first day of prophylaxis), then administered on days 3, 7, and 14 after the first vaccination.