September 28th 2016 is World Rabies Day. It was launched in 2007 to raise awareness about the impact of the disease on human and animal health. Rabies is probably a disease that you’re familiar with. Although it can be rare in countries with well-developed prevention and control programs, rabies is still a major concern around the world, causing over 55,000 human deaths a year globally (WHO). It is present on every continent except Antarctica. Rabies is a quick-moving virus that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals with terrible clinical symptoms. Once symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal, especially in animals. It is transmitted through saliva, primarily through a bite wound from an infected animal. It can also be passed by the infected saliva coming into contact with a scratch, open wound or mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal cavity or eyes.
Globally, dogs are the source of the vast majority of rabies cases in humans. Bats are a common source of rabies, as well as cats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, wolves, and many more. Horses and cows can also acquire the disease and spread it to humans. In many developed countries like Canada, the U.S., Australia, numerous European countries and more, it is a legal requirement in municipalities, counties, or even the country to have your pet vaccinated against rabies.
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your pet is to have your pet vaccinated. Canine rabies is completely preventable with vaccination. The rabies vaccination is safe and effective, in both humans and domestic animals. Canine vaccination is much more cost-effective than post-exposure vaccination and treatment for humans, and large-scale vaccination of at least 70% of an animal population helps to break the transmission pathways. Practicing dog bite prevention can also help. Rabies is a terrible disease for which there is no cure and leads to needless suffering and death. For more information, visit https://rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day/