​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Rabies​​Rabies virus is a zoonotic disease ​that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, although any mammal can get rabies.​ If left untreated rabies is lethal, but it can be prevented by pre-exposure vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis.​​ Rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis is necessary for testing potentially infected animals. 

Role of the Public Health Laboratory

Public health laboratories play an important role in testing suspicious rabid animals to inform patient medical management and surveillance of positive cases. 

APHL works closely with our member public ​health laboratories and CDC 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, a member of the genus Lyssavirus, along with a wide range of other genus members. 

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 letter​ with current considerations for laboratories interested in implementing the LN34 assay. APHL continues to work with CDC and the workgroup members to evaluate the LN34 assay and strategies for implementation.