Call to end dog-transmitted human rabies by 2030

A call for the total elimination of dog-transmitted human rabies by 2030 has come from the World Veterinary Association (WVA) and the World Medical Association (WMA). The two organizations have joined forces to mark World Rabies Day tomorrow (September 28) in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

An estimated 60,000 people die from rabies each year, mainly affecting poorer people and children between the ages of five and 15. A majority of these deaths, about 97 percent, are attributable to dog bites. Notifications of animal bites are generally not required in the countries in which these bites occur most commonly, leading to unreliable data on animal bites.

WVA President, Dr. Johnson S.M. Chiang, said: ‘To meet the target for eliminating dog-transmitted rabies by 2030, dogs need to be vaccinated and kept free from rabies disease. There also needs to be more public awareness with greater collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies.

‘Dog owners need to give their animals good housing, feeding, appropriate veterinary care and compliance with scheduled anti-rabies vaccination at approved facilities. Responsible pet ownership also includes education and dog safety awareness education for school-aged children’.

Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, Chair of the WMA Council, said: ‘Whenever a dog bites, it should be reported promptly to health care providers and the root cause investigated and analyzed for the preferred medical intervention to be determined by the physician.

‘When anyone is bitten by a dog, they should instantly wash the bite site with soap and water, disinfect with alcohol or iodine, isolate the dog and promptly report to the nearest primary health center. If the virus in the saliva enters the tissue at the site of the bite, it can cause fatal encephalitis without any cure possible again’.