Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of humans and other mammals. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal. Although lethal if left untreated, rabies can be prevented with rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis and post-exposure prophylaxis.
Public Health Laboratories Inform Rabies Epidemiology
Public health laboratories play an important role in testing suspicious rabid animals to inform patient medical management and surveillance of positive cases. This reporting can provide an epidemiologic framework for prevention and control programs.
APHL works closely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health laboratories to promote the public health laboratory role in rabies testing and provide resources and training to ensure that high quality testing using the latest methods is available everywhere in the US.
Testing for Rabies at Public Health Laboratories
In May 2018, CDC made available the LN34 assay, a real time PCR assay that detects the rabies virus and a wide range of Lyssaviruses.
APHL is currently working with subject matter experts from public health and veterinary laboratories to develop recommendations for the laboratory diagnosis of rabies. The workgroup has been evaluating the utility of the LN34 assay for rabies laboratory diagnosis to inform national guidelines. Most recently, the workgroup has published a Dear Colleague letter with current considerations for laboratories interesting in implementing the LN34 assay.
APHL continues to work with CDC and the workgroup members to evaluate the LN34 assay and strategies for implementation and hopes to release recommendations by summer 2021.