World Rabies Day 2016
World Rabies Day 2016
“Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate.” is the theme for World Rabies Day 2016. American pet owners’ familiarity with rabies is limited to vaccinations administered in the veterinarian’s office and a number of horror films featuring rabid animals. To those living in less developed countries, rabies is a daily threat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates one person dies of rabies every 10 minutes, the majority in rural Africa and Asia. Because young children are most susceptible to bites from dogs, 4 out of every 10 human rabies victims are under the age of 15. Educate your children on how to safely interact with dogs and protect them against bite injury and the possibility of rabies.
Rabies vaccinations are critical to decreasing rabies in both humans and animals. Rabies vaccine is available for people, but the vaccine is prohibitively expensive for those living in less developed countries. In the United States, only those with a high risk of exposure to rabid animals get vaccinated – veterinarians for example. For victims of dog bites, rabies immune globulin can prevent the disease, if administered shortly after the bite injury. But like the human rabies vaccine, rabies treatment is often beyond the financial means of those living in less developed countries than ours. Mass vaccination of dogs may be the best way to eliminate rabies in humans.
Reduction of human rabies cases to zero requires vaccination of at least 70% of the dog population. One of the reasons the United States has only sporadic cases of canine rabies is our high rate of vaccination of dogs. Mass vaccination programs for dogs in underdeveloped countries are much more affordable than human vaccination and have become an important method of controlling rabies. If the dogs are protected against rabies, so are humans. Organizations like the WHO, World Organization for Animal Health, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Global Alliance for the Control of Rabies are working together to vaccinate dogs in hopes of eliminating human deaths from rabies.
Do Your Part
Despite rabies being an uncommon disease in our world, be sure your dog and cat are vaccinated against this fatal disease. If you or a family member are bitten by a dog, thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water, followed by application of a disinfectant. Check with your family physician about the need for antibiotic treatment. For severe bite injuries, go directly to the emergency room.