28 September marks the sixth World Rabies Day. Led by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, the event provides a platform for individuals and organisations to raise awareness about the importance of rabies prevention.
British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Carl Padgett said: “Rabies remains of one of the most serious viral zoonoses presently encountered worldwide. Despite being 100 per cent preventable, it is estimated that 55,000 people die worldwide from rabies each year, approximately one person every 10 minutes.
“The BVA is extremely proud to support World Rabies Day. This campaign offers a tremendous opportunity to increase global awareness of this devastating, yet totally preventable, disease.”
Over 2,000 events in 150 countries have helped to vaccinate 7.7 million animals since the inaugural World Rabies Day campaign in 2007. In the period since then, an estimated 182 million people have learned how to prevent the disease.
Dogs are the main repository for rabies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and are responsible for the majority of human deaths worldwide.
Mr Padgett continued: “Dogs suffer abuse and persecution that stems from being the main source of rabies in people, as well as the agony of the disease itself. The risks posed by these mostly stray dogs are an issue that governments and societies deal with in a variety of ways, many of them regarded as inhumane.
“This major source of rabies in humans can be eliminated through ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk, and enhancing access of those bitten to appropriate medical care. The veterinary profession has an important role to play in protecting domestic animals and the general public from rabies.
“World Rabies Day campaign is an excellent example of ‘One Health’ in action and we must all do everything we can to maintain the momentum created by this initiative to reduce the global burden of rabies. Together we can make rabies history!”