What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva or tissues from the nervous system from an infected mammal to another mammal, usually through a bite.
It is currently responsible for an estimated 59,000 human deaths a year, almost all transmitted via dog 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% case fatality rate, canine rabies 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 which prevent rabies people are expensive. In rabies endemic areas, where every dog bite must be considered a potential expsoure, 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 rabies, culls do not.
World Rabies Day is a day of action and awareness raising. Elimination of canine-mediated rabies is possible. Let's make that possibility a reality. Let's End Rabies Together.
How to prevent rabies
Dog vaccination 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, particularly livestock.
Vaccinate your family's animals against rabies to protect them and help protect you and your family too.
What to do if you're bitten
1. Wash the wound. Wash the bite wound throughly with soap and water for 15 minutes. Apply ethanol or a similar antiseptic to prevent secondary infection.
2. Seek urgent medical attention. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the course of vaccines that prevent the onset of clinical symptoms of rabies in people.
Modern vaccines are the only way to prevent the onset of rabies after exposure. Traditional remedies, such as jackfruit gum and chilli powder, will not protect you against the rabies virus.
Find out more about post-exposure prophylaxis here
3. Watch the animal. Where possible, watch the biting animal for signs of illness for 14 days. Do not kill the animal. If they animal dies, report the incident to the veterinary authorities.