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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Diagnosis of rabies is generally made clinically.

Fluorescent antibody has been used to detect rabies antigen in tissue e.g. - nuchal skin biopsy - viral antigens or RNA detected at the base of hair follicles containing peripheral nerves, in salivary secretions, in brain tissue (post mortem)

Negri bodies are detected in about 90% of patients with rabies at post-mortem.

Clinical cases can be confirmed by the presence of one or more of the following laboratory criteria:

  • presence of viral antigens
  • isolation of virus in cell culture or in laboratory animals
  • presence of viral specific antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid or in the serum of an unvaccinated person
  • presence of viral nucleic acids detected by molecular methods in samples (for example, brain biopsy sample, skin, saliva, concentrated urine) collected post mortem or when the patient is alive (1).


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