Every year, on the 28th of September, we celebrate World Rabies Day, globally.
This memorable day equally marks the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur, who successfully developed the first rabies vaccine for humans. Health communities worldwide, including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), come together to both inspire activism and raise awareness of the killer disease with a global goal of “Zero by 30” - No human cases by 2030. World Rabies Day is there to promote their work, to educate, and to build support.
Rabies is a virus that is spreading by infected animals in the transmission of their saliva to an open wound. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will typically cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour including confusion, hallucination, aggression, followed by seizures, coma, and death. The most significant problem is, symptoms might not show straight away. Medical professionals can treat Rabies if caught on time with effect, but the most fundamental problem is once clinical symptoms of the disease develop it is 100% fatal.
In developed countries, rabies deaths are very rare thanks to successful animal control and vaccination programs. But around the world, in over 150 countries, rabies kills over 59,000 people every year, not counting the thousands of infected animals. However, 95% of rabies-related deaths occur abundantly in Africa and Asia alone. Unfortunately, with the lack of proper, fundamental health care and veterinary systems, third world countries not only is there a massive shortage of medical professionals, but communities are unaware of the ultimate consequences that can happen after a dog bite.
Though still present in Thailand, rabies is a low risk for travellers, though may pose a higher risk to ex-pats living and working near areas with stray dogs. Bites and scratches by a dog, cat or monkey can be a common problem so we recommend having an anti-rabies vaccine before travelling just in case!
About 90% of human cases come from an infected dog. Science shows that the most effective long-term rabies control strategy is through vaccination of dogs in endemic areas, therefore by vaccinating mass populations of dogs, the disease’s life-cycle can be broke.
For further information about the Rabies Virus, Global Rabies elimination campaigns, or to find out how you can take part in the “Zero by 30” movement visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website