Coping with COVID-19 need not derail progress against rabies

Before the emergence of the newest animal-borne disease, COVID-19, the world was in the last mile of eliminating one of the oldest animal-borne diseases – rabies.

For around 4,000 years, humanity has been contending with this infectious disease. Rabies has the highest case fatality rate of any conventional infectious agent at close to 100%. And it is almost always transmitted to people through bites from infected dogs.

A vaccine for dogs was developed as early as 1799. Widespread vaccination and other preventative measures have since saved an estimated 2.9 million human lives annually.

The canine vaccine is inexpensive and prevents transmission to people. But this painful disease continues to kill around 60,000 every year – often children under the age of 15 across Africa and Asia. Part of the challenge is that rabies control has been a victim of its own success: with millions of lives saved and vast progress in recent years, momentum for the last mile is difficult to maintain, as the victims are often the poorest of the poor living in rural communities.

Now the world is the grip of a new pandemic which sets back the fight against rabies. To read full article on The Conversation