World Rabies Day is this Friday 28 September and Australian-based international animal charity Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) is using the occasion to draw Australia’s attention to this deadly dog-mediated disease.
“Rabies kills thousands of people around the world every year,” VBB CEO Maryann Dalton said. “It is nearly always fatal—only a few people in the world have survived treatment. But it’s 100 per cent preventable by vaccination.”
Rabies infection is caused by the rabies virus, which is spread through the saliva of infected animals by biting another animal or a person, and it is always fatal once clinical symptoms appear.
Australia is free of rabies, but tragically the virus kills approximately 59,000 people every year—40 per cent of them children in Asia and Africa.
“Dog bites cause almost all human cases of rabies. We can prevent rabies deaths through increased awareness, vaccinating dogs to prevent disease at its source, and timely life-saving post-bite treatment for people,” Dalton said.
Through its VetMatch and VetTrain programs, VBB deploys volunteer veterinarians, veterinary nurses and other animal welfare workers across the globe to deliver animal health and community awareness programs where they are desperately needed.
In India (which carries a third of the world’s rabies burden), VBB has created the Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) program to provide canine rabies vaccination, humane dog population control, community education and treatment of sick and injured animals.
“The SARAH program is the first state-wide rabies program in India and generates tremendous results with a small dedicated staff and VBB volunteers working with very basic facilities,” Dalton said.
World Rabies Day is created and coordinated annually by Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and is the first and only global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention.
Click here for GARC World Rabies Day awareness events in Australia.