Local infiltration of rabies immunoglobulins without systemic intramuscular administration: An alternative cost effective approach for passive immunization against rabies.
Presently the dose of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) which is an integral part of rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is calculated based on body weight though the recommendation is to infiltrate the wound(s). This practice demands large quantities of RIG which may be un- affordable to many patients. In this background, we conducted this study to know if the quantity and cost of RIG can be reduced by restricting passive immunization to local infiltration alone and avoiding systemic intramuscular administration based on the available scientific evidence. Two hundred and sixty nine category III patients bitten by suspect or confirmed rabid dogs/ animals were infiltrated with equine rabies immunoglobulin (ERIGs) in and around the wound, the quantity of ERIG used was proportionate to the size and number of wounds irrespective of their body weight. They were followed with a regular course of rabies vaccination by intra-dermal route. As against 363 vials of RIGs required for all these cases as per current recommendation based on body weight, they required only 42 vials of 5ml RIG. Minimum dose of RIGs given was 0.25ml and maximum dose given was 8ml. On an average 1.26ml of RIGs was required per patient that costs Rs. 150 ($3). All the patients were followed for 9 months and they were healthy and normal at the end of observation period. With local infiltration, that required small quantities of RIG, the RIGs could be made available to all patients in times of short supply in the market. A total of 30 (11%) serum samples of patients were tested for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies by the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) and all showed antibody titers >0.5 IU/mL by day 14. In no case the dose was higher than that required based on body weight and no immunosuppression resulted. To conclude, this pilot study shows that local infiltration of RIG need to be considered in times of non availability in the market or un-affordability by poor patients. This preliminary study needs to be done on larger scale in other centers with long term follow up to substantiate the results of our study.
Animal bites; Passive immunization; Rabies; Rabies Immunoglobulin