September 28th marks World Rabies Day. While cases of human rabies in certain parts of the globe are rare, the number of cases that occur in developing countries, such as Africa and Asia, are in the thousands each year.
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) is working to eliminate rabies in areas hardest hit. GARC works with global partners to increase community awareness of the disease and its prevention. This year the theme of World Rabies Day is “Rabies: Share the message. Save a Life”.
Facts about rabies:
- Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans from wildlife, cats, and dogs.
- Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries.
- Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths (99% of all rabies transmissions to humans are from dogs).
- Tens of thousands of people die each year from rabies.
- Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are frequent victims of rabies.
- In North America, every year about 40,000 people receive post-exposure prophylaxis because they had contact with a potentially rabid animal.
- Rabies is 100% vaccine-preventable.
- Rabies elimination is possible through the vaccination of dogs and prevention of dog bites.
Rabies can be prevented by:
- Elimination of rabies in dogs through vaccination programs.
- Prevention of dog bites through education about dog behavior, especially with school-aged children.
- Immunization of people who work in high-risk occupations or travel to rabies-affected areas, and children who live in or visit high-risk areas.
How we can all help:
- Take your pet for annual wellness checks and follow the recommended vaccination plan.
- Even if your pet is an “indoor cat” or “indoor dog,” vaccinate it. Bats, a known carrier of rabies, are notorious for finding their way indoors; likewise indoor pets, as unlikely as it might seem, sometimes find their way outdoors, risking exposure to rabid wildlife.
- Supervise your pets when they are outside, especially if rabies is known to be in your area.
- Keep your pets (and yourself and your children) away from wild animals and pets you don’t know.
- Keep garbage cans secure, and don’t leave food or water dishes outside for your pets, as they may attract wildlife or unvaccinated strays to your yard.
Take a moment today to ensure your that pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Spread the word about World Rabies Day through social media and do your part to keep your pet and family safe.