Thursday, September 28th 2017 – The day when the nations of the world make a commitment to eliminate rabies by 2030. World Rabies Day is the first and only global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention. A common goal of zero deaths from canine rabies by 2030 was agreed on by the World Health Orginization, World Organisation for Animal Health, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. It is now up to all of us to make this goal possible.
Some may ask, why focus on rabies when there are other life threatening diseases in the world? Rabies is 100% preventable, and 99.9% fatal once symptoms manifest. Every 15 minutes a human dies from rabies – that is over 59,000 people a year. It is also called the “forgotten disease of the poor”, a disease where no one lives to tell the tale. 95% of deaths occur in Africa and Asia, many of those lives lost are children under the age of 15. Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing nearly all cases of transmission – these dogs could be domestic pets, or feral packs. Source: WHO
In rural remote areas communities may have domestic dogs that are cared for by one family or the community. As children play with their dogs or neighbor dogs, a bite or scratch may occur. This may happen for a number of reasons – the children startled the dogs, or were stuck in the middle of a fight, possibly feral packs may move through the area and bite a pet dog. Once a child is bitten the family must make a decision, fast.
- Was there a chance this bite could have been from a dog that carries rabies?
- Can the family afford to pay for post-exposure prophylaxis [PEP]? The cost is $100, which is 3 MONTHS salary.
- If a family can gather enough funding to pay for the PEP, can they find transport to a clinic on the day the child was bitten?
If a parent is not able to afford the treatment, or find transportation, then a difficult choice must be made.
The family must take the risk and hope the dog that bit the child, was not infected. Then, the family must wait 4-12 weeks to see if thier child develops any neurological symptoms. However, the incubation period can range from a few days to six years. If thier child starts to have flu-like symptoms such a fever or weakness, it is too late. Their child will die from rabies, and there is nothing that can be done.
The saddest part of this story, it was 100% preventable. Once 70% of dogs in a region are vaccinated “herd immunity” is reached. At this level of vaccination coverage, the virus is unable to spread in a dog population that has immune protection, and it eventually dies out.
How do we, as a global community, prevent these deaths caused by rabies? It starts with working with local veterinarians teamed up with various organizations. These groups: WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Health, Merck Animal Health, World Organisation for Animal Health – are only a few that have helped to end rabies now. You combine this with game changing discoveries such as thermo-tolerant vaccines which allows delivery to remote, underserved communities.
These teams travel to the areas most affected, in Africa and Asia. Doctors and support staff go to the schools and educate the children on the importance of vaccination, and notify them when vaccination clinics will be held. The children then educate their parents, the parents teach their neighbors until the community as a whole is reached. Then small teams travel to these rural locations and vaccinate the pets of the community. We reach 70% heard immunity and eradicate rabies in one village, and go to the next village, and the next village, and the next one. We end rabies NOW.
At SouthCare Animal Medical Center we help you and your pets fight against this terrible disease. With EVERY rabies vaccine we give, we donate $1 to the WSU Eliminate Rabies Fund. You and your pets are saving lives by simply receiving the vaccines that they would be already be getting. If you choose, you can also donate to the Eliminate Rabies Fund by clicking here.
If you would like to help by vaccinating your pet you can schedule an appointment with us online here: SouthCare Appointment Request
We would love to see you and help eliminate rabies by 2030!