Rabies awareness campaign reaches over one million people in India



Rabies campaign reaches over a million people in India

Geneva, Switzerland– 17 Dec. 14

Despite being preventable, rabies kills around 70,000 people every year, many of whom die through a lack of access to lifesaving medical treatment. The number of dogs that die as a result of the disease, or as a result of culls aimed at controlling dog populations, is estimated at tens of millions.

A renewed multi-year partnership between MSD and its animal health division MSD Animal Health and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) promises to raise the global profile of rabies through public advocacy and awareness efforts. As part of these efforts, India, as the country with the largest number of rabies deaths in the world (up to 17,000 human deaths every year) was targeted on the occasion of the 8th annual World Rabies Day on September 28th, to help citizens to realise the importance of vaccinating dogs to keep humans and animals safe.

GARC’s global Me and My Dog photo campaign, to remind dog owners of the need to vaccinate their dogs against rabies to keep both people and animals safe, was launched in India with support from MSD Animal Health. It reached over 1.2 million people in the country, and even trended nationally on Twitter. Hundreds of photos were shared and the message of rabies prevention through dog vaccination went a long way towards saving human and animal lives.

The global campaign attracted a healthy level of support from the celebrity world too. GARC’s patron, the author Alexander McCall-Smith, was joined by a host of other global names including: Samantha FoxOrla KielyRichard Madeley and the Bollywood star, Esha Deol.

Professor Louis Nel, Executive Director of GARC, said: “Since its creation in 2007, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control has brought together the leading organisations involved in the fight against rabies, to raise the profile of this neglected disease. We are delighted that MSD Animal Health is supporting the World Rabies Day initiatives, which helps us to multiply efforts to fight rabies on the global scale.”

Alasdair King, Director Intergovernmental Veterinary Health for MSD Animal Health, said “the fact that our human health division, companion animal division and intergovernmental health division all contributed to this sponsorship demonstrates what importance we consider the control of rabies to be for both humans and animals.  This is a disease that we can control by all working together and we are committed to developing partnerships which will find new ways to stop these horrible deaths.”

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Notes to editors:

  • Read Alexander McCall Smith’s blog here
  • Read Debbie Briggs’ article, Why Rabies Has to End – Now, a piece recollecting Professor Briggs’ first encounter with rabies.
  • View all the photos from the Me and My Dog campaign here
  • Support the campaignon Facebook here
  • Follow us on Twitter @rabiesalliance and join the conversation using the hashtag #TogetherAgainstRabies
  • For more information on GARC and the rabies control projects it is involved in around the world, click here.

To schedule an interview with a Global Alliance for Rabies Control expert, please contact [email protected]

About the Global Alliance for Rabies Control

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) is a leading non-profit organisation that works with governments, veterinary, public health and educational  experts  and communities to facilitate policy change and develop models to eliminate rabies in areas hardest hit by the disease. GARC’s mission is to eliminate human deaths from rabies and relieve the burden of rabies in animal populations, especially dogs. For more information about rabies and GARC’s work, visit http://rabiesalliance.org.

About MSD Animal Health

Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD Animal Health, known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services.

MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.msd-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About rabies

Around 70,000 people die from rabies annually, with over 99% of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia, as a result of being bitten by an infected dog. Up to 60% of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.

Dogs are major victims of the disease as well, with up to 20 million killed every year as a result of mass culling through misguided attempts to curb the disease. 

Rabies is 99.9% fatal, but it is also 100% preventable. Eliminating the disease by vaccinating dogs protects them and stops transmission to people. But despite the existence of effective, relatively low-cost solutions to control animal rabies, people and animals are still dying tortured deaths because of this disease.

About World Rabies Day

World Rabies Day, held on September 28 every year, was initiated by GARC in 2007 to create a global opportunity for people to unite in rabies prevention. Since then, it has grown year on year, with hundreds of thousands of people organizing and participating in local, regional and national events, on or around September 28 - and at other times of year too. Learn more at http://rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day/bsp;