Neglected tropical diseases

World Rabies Day

27 September 2012 | Geneva

28 September is World Rabies Day. Global observance helps to raise awareness about this preventable viral infection and how to avoid rabies. The most effective way to control rabies is to vaccinate domestic animals, such as dogs and cats. Other measures include educating families and communities about responsible pet ownership and supporting the humane management of stray animals, mainly dogs.

For the past three decades, WHO has promoted the prevention and control of human dog-mediated rabies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries through advocacy, studies and research on the use of new tools and through WHO-recommended post-exposure prophylaxis and vaccines.

Vaccinate your pet. Act now – Read the story of Aditya and his dog
©Daniel Stewart

14 year-old Aditya proudly walked Moti in the evenings.

Moti, a 4 year-old fawn and black Labrador retriever, was already a hero in the village where it helped locate a toddler, stuck in a rain gutter for more than six hours.

During one of Aditya’s dog-walks in late July this year, Moti broke loose and rushed to fight a couple of stray dogs. Minutes later, Moti triumphantly returned, reassuringly licking its young master’s knuckles.

When he returned home, Aditya noticed Moti suffered lacerations on both ears. He told his father about it, who regretted missing two previous opportunities to vaccinate Moti. He promised he would do so next time the mobile veterinary team visited his area. He applied some medication on Moti’s bite wounds.

Five weeks later, Moti showed strange behavioural changes, becoming irritable, restless and aggressive. This prompted Aditya’s father to isolate Moti from the rest of the family and restrict all contact with the dog. As a precaution, he had his whole family examined by the local doctor to ensure no one had been exposed and no one needed post-exposure prohylaxis.

As the dog’s condition worsened, the veterinary office of the locality insisted that Moti be put to sleep.

Aditya now has a new 13-week puppy. His father has made sure it had been immunized and vaccinated against rabies.

Rabies: in a snapshot

  • Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease
  • Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies transmission and deaths
  • 40% of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children, aged 15 or less
  • More than 50 000 people die of rabies every year, mainly in Asia and Africa

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