Clin Exp Vaccine Res.  2017 Jul;6(2):111-119. 10.7774/cevr.2017.6.2.111.

Mass vaccination has led to the elimination of rabies since 2014 in South Korea

  • 1Viral Disease Division, Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, MAFRA, Gimcheon, Korea.
  • 2National Institute of Biological Resources, Ministry of Environment, Incheon, Korea.


Rabies is one of the most fatal diseases, but it is 100% preventable in animals by vaccination. In this study, we present the epidemiological features of, and national preventive measures against, rabies in Korea.
Data related to rabies and the population density of raccoon dogs in Korea were collected from the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Environmental Research. Rabies diagnosis was confirmed with a fluorescent antibody test using brain samples of animals in accordance with the procedures described by the World Organization for Animal Health. Serological assays for dogs and cattle were conducted using the fluorescent antibody virus neutralization test.
From 1993 to 2016, a total of seven human rabies cases and 437 animal rabies cases in five different species were reported. An increase in the distribution of bait vaccine seemed to be related to a dramatic decrease in rabies prevalence in endemic rabies regions. Two Korean provinces and the capital city, Seoul, were involved in rabies outbreaks. Korean rabies strains are most closely related to the eastern Chinese strain belonging to the Arctic-like lineage. The yearly seropositive rates ranged from 50.4% to 81.2% in dogs and from 25% to 60.5% in cattle residing in endemic rabies regions.
This study indicates that national preventive measures, including mass vaccination and distribution of bait vaccines, have contributed to a substantial decrease in the number of rabies cases in Korea.


Epidemiology; Rabies; Disease eradication; Korea
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