Epidemiology and burden of disease

A very wide distribution

The global burden of rabies is estimated to be over 60 000 human deaths per annum.

Latin America and the Caribbean have had substantial reduction of the number of human and animal rabies cases due to canine rabies control programmes. Official reports of cases of human rabies transmitted by dogs decreased from about 250 in 1990 to fewer than 10 in 2010. The Pan American Health Organization has set a target to eliminate canine rabies from the Americas by 2015.

More information on the initiative

More human deaths from rabies occur in Asia than anywhere else in the world, with estimates of human mortality due to endemic canine rabies exceeding 30 000 per annum. Within Asia, India is reported to have the highest incidence of rabies globally (20 565 deaths per annum). Africa is not far behind in numbers with 23 700 deaths per annum.

Little information is available on rabies in the Middle East or Central Asia and more investigation into the scale of the burden of rabies in much needed in these regions.

Rabies in the news

26 May 2014 | Geneva
A shortage of funds for vaccinating dogs is costing the lives of tens of thousands of children every year

8 July 2013 | Paris
Announcement. Workshop on surveillance and control of rabies. Dakar (Senegal), 3–14 December 2013

4 July 2013 │Geneva
Report of the WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies, 18–20 September 2012

29 August 2012 | York (UK)
First International Conference on Dog Population Management, York (UK), 4–8 September 2012. | The Food & Environment Research Agency