Some people living in two Amazon communities in Peru survived being exposed to rabies virus without receiving vaccination, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Health. While avoiding rabid animal exposures, and receiving injections administered after a person is exposed to rabies virus remain the best ways to protect against acquisition of this fatal disease, there is strong evidence that an immune response may occur in certain communities where people are regularly exposed to the virus, according to a study published today.
The study, “Evidence of Rabies Virus Exposure among Humans in the Peruvian Amazon,” is in the August issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The researchers conducted a survey in two communities in a remote section of the Peruvian Amazon where outbreaks of human rabies infections caused by vampire bat bites have occurred regularly over the past two decades. Several of these people who were previously exposed to rabies virus survived without vaccination, although the study cannot determine whether they ever experienced clinical disease.
It actually makes sense. It is endemic, people get bitten and exposed regularly. What are the chances humans would evolve some kind of resistance to this virus given generations upon generations of exposure?