The 10th World Rabies Day (WRD) will take place on 28 September, the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur who collaborated in developing the first effective rabies vaccine.
The theme for 2016 is ‘Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate’. The aim of WRD is to raise awareness of rabies and to promote activities in at-risk communities. There is a global determination to bring an end to dog-mediated rabies by 2030 – it should be possible.
Although well controlled in some countries, at least one billion people live at risk of rabies every day and the latest estimates suggest that around 59,000 people, many of them children, die of rabies around the world each year. 95% of the world’s human victims of rabies are from Africa and Asia and almost all cases are the result of a bite from an infected dog. Within those countries, it is the poorest and most marginalised people who suffer most, being those least able to access life saving vaccines if they are bitten. Moreover, the struggle to pay for treatments often deepens their already desperate poverty.
Pre- and post-exposure vaccination can be safely and effectively used to prevent rabies in humans, but vaccine is costly, and not always available to everyone, everywhere, every time. The best answer is to tackle the disease at source: vaccinating dogs creates a protective barrier around humans and their animals. It will save human lives, save billions in treatment costs – money that can be spent on development – and enable communities to live at peace with their dogs.
Further details on how to support the campaign to eliminate canine rabies can be found at the website of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (https://rabiesalliance.org/). Specifically, those based in the UK can donate or fundraise at their webpage: https://www.justgiving.com/allianceforrabiescontrol/donate.
WRD serves as a reminder to healthcare professionals that rabies risk is a topic that should be addressed in many travel consultations. The rabies record on TRAVAX (http://www.travax.nhs.uk/diseases/vaccine-preventable/rabies.aspx) contains comprehensive information on the subject including risk assessment, guidance, pre- and post-exposure vaccination and first aid advice. Information for the general public is also available on fitfortravel at http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/rabies.aspx.
Source: HPS eWeekly Report