About Rabies?

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable, zoonotic, viral disease. Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is virtually 100% fatal. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. Yet, rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people and animals through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.

Rabies is present on all continents, except Antarctica, with over 95% of human deaths occurring in the Asia and Africa regions. Rabies is one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) that predominantly affects poor and vulnerable populations who live in remote rural locations. Approximately 80% of human cases occur in rural areas. Although effective human vaccines and immunoglobulins exist for rabies, they are not readily available or accessible to those in need. Globally, rabies deaths are rarely reported and children between the ages of 5–14 years are frequent victims. Managing a rabies exposure, where the average cost of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is currently estimated at an average of US$ 108 can be a catastrophic financial burden on affected families whose average daily income may be as low as US$ 1–2 per person1

Every year, more than 29 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually. Globally, the economic burden of dog-mediated rabies is estimated at US$ 8.6 billion per year.

 

Prevention

Eliminating rabies in dogs

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease. Vaccinating dogs is the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people. Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to dog-mediated rabies and the need for PEP as a part of dog bite patient care.

Awareness on rabies and preventing dog bites

Education on dog behaviour and bite prevention for both children and adults is an essential extension of a rabies vaccination programme and can decrease both the incidence of human rabies and the financial burden of treating dog bites. Increasing awareness of rabies prevention and control in communities includes education and information on responsible pet ownership, how to prevent dog bites, and immediate care measures after a bite. Engagement and ownership of the programme at the community level increases reach and uptake of key messages.1

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