Each year on Sept. 28 events are held worldwide to raise awareness about the impact of rabies in both humans and animals. Despite rabies being vaccine-preventable, over 55,000 people die each year of the virus, 40% of which are children under 15. According to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control the majority of rabies cases in humans could be eliminated with educational programs aimed at those at highest risk, adequate animal vaccination and control, and improvement of access to appropriate medical care for people that become exposed to the virus.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease transmitted through saliva or nervous system tissue, and is typically spread to humans via a bite or scratch by an infected animal. An incubation period lasting weeks or months occurs as the virus travels to the brain. Upon reaching the brain, symptoms appear. After this point survival is rare.
Worldwide, dogs are the source of 99% of human deaths due to rabies. While many species are capable of transmitting the disease, dogs are the most significant source of infection in areas with the greatest burden of the virus (Central America, South America, Asia and Africa). Unfortunately, the cost of controlling dog rabies through vaccination programs is cost-prohibitive in many parts of the developing world and is a drain on public health resources for even the most prosperous nations.
This year on Sept. 28 consider joining the World Rabies Day initiative by increasing rabies awareness. Activities such as vaccinating your pets, submitting rabies alerts to HealthMap, participating in one of the many fundraising events, or making a donation that will aid localities in educating children about rabies all support the goal of eliminating human deaths from rabies.
2011 Rabies News Headlines:
Fort Drum soldier dies after contracting rabies: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/09/fort_drum_soldier_dies_after_c.html
Government declares epidemic of canine rabies cases up 9 times (Spanish translation): http://www.opinion.com.bo/opinion/articulos/2011/0628/noticias.php?id=15701
Nearly 35,000 dogs found carrying rabies in Yangon:
‘Denied’ vaccine, boy dies of rabies:
Hundreds in E. Nusa Tenggara treated for rabies: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/03/04/hundreds-e-nusa-tenggara-treated-rabies.html
Rabies death toll climbs in Bali:
For More Information:
World Rabies Day: http://www.worldrabiesday.org/
WHO Rabies Information Page: http://www.who.int/rabies
Global Alliance for Rabies Control: http://www.rabiescontrol.net/
CDC Rabies Information Page: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/