Sept. 28, 2015 is World Rabies Day, and to mark the day, health officials have published a paper that calls on countries to invest in programs that reduce rabies, including the mass vaccination of dogs in affected areas. 

Officials with the World Health Organization (WHO), along with The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Untied Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) note in their paper that “vaccinating 70% of dogs in rabies affected areas is sufficient to eliminate canine rabies worldwide, at a much lower cost than post-exposure medication.”

Post-exposure prophylaxis can be effective in preventing human rabies deaths. However, the approach is costly and can only protect individuals who have prompt access to health facilities that provide the treatment, according to a press release about the paper. 

In addition to providing effective and safe vaccines for dogs and humans, the paper also calls for: practical guidance to implementing rabies control programs;  education and awareness modules for community involvement; and improved data collection. 

Rabies continues to kill around 59,000 people every year. Almost 40% of victims exposed to dog bites are children younger than age 15, according to data found within the paper.

Reference

1. OIE, WHO, FAO. Rationale for Investing in the Global Elimination of Dog-mediated Human Rabies. 2015; 1-28.