August 28th, 2016 marks the 10th World Rabies Day, a milestone in rabies prevention.
Since it began in 2007, the medical and veterinary professions have aligned to make World Rabies Day a global phenomenon. In that time, their life-saving rabies prevention messages have reached millions of people in over 100 different countries.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva or tissues from the nervous system of an infected mammal to another mammal, usually through a bite.
Rabies is currently responsible for an estimated 59,000 human deaths a year, most transmitted via dog and cat bites. Up to 60% of all rabies deaths are children under the age of 15. Very few victims have access to the palliative care that would alleviate the suffering of their final days.
However, despite its almost 100% fatality rate, rabies in pets is completely preventable with modern vaccines. Nobody need die of rabies.
Beyond the death toll, rabies has considerable economic impact in developing countries, primarily in Africa and Asia, which can least afford these losses.
The post-exposure vaccines used to prevent the development of rabies in people who have been bitten are expensive. In rabies-endemic areas, where every dog bite must be considered a potential exposure, families face a stark choice between finding the money to pay for the vaccines or run the risk of developing a disease which is fatal in almost 100% of cases. The financial burden for families struggling to emerge from poverty is crippling.
Dogs are also victims of rabies. Not only are they subject to the disease’s horrific clinical symptoms, estimates suggest millions of dogs are killed in culls every year in misguided attempts to control the disease. Dog vaccination stops canine rabies, culls do not.
World Rabies Day is a day of action and awareness raising. Elimination of pet-mediated rabies is possible. Let’s make that possibility a reality. Let’s End Rabies Together.
How to prevent Rabies?
Vaccination of pets is the most reliable, sustainable, and cost effective way to prevent rabies in people.
Although dogs are the primary source of rabies, rabies can affect other animals too and it is wise to vaccinate all your animals against rabies. Vaccinate your family’s animals against rabies to protect them and help protect you and your family.