During the World Rabies Day marked yesterday, World Animal Protection launched a new report ‘All Eyes on Dogs’, which provides the first trajectory with actions needed to eliminate dog-mediated rabies by 2030.
The report demonstrates how humane rabies control can contribute to One Health implementation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr Emily Mudoga, Animals in Communities Campaign Manager at World Animal protection said this year’s World Rabies Day has come at a time when we are all too familiar with the global threat of zoonotic diseases, as the world grapples with coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
"The importance of focusing on animal health, human health and environmental health cannot be overstated. Rabies is entirely preventable and can be eliminated if we focus on dogs," Ms Mudoga said.
She said the organisation has been working hard not only to vaccinate and neuter dogs, but also to put all eyes on dogs for rabies elimination.
"Without swift treatment, this disease is fatal, yet unlike many diseases, is preventable with the right course of action. Killing dogs does not stop the disease, mass dog vaccination is the only proven solution,” she said.
She said rabies has the highest fatality rate and the virus is typically spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals, most commonly as a result of dog-bite injury.
Globally, approximate 150 people die of rabies daily mainly children under the age of 15. It causes needless suffering to families and dogs, while posing a financial burden on governments and communities.
"To counter the fear of rabies, local or national authorities sometimes cull the local dog population in the mistaken belief that a lower dog density leads to a reduced chance of people being bitten by a rabid dog. This can amplify the problem by killing potentially vaccinated animals, thereby accelerating the spread of the disease," Ms Mudoga said.
She said canine vaccination is financially the best option for animal rabies control and rabies prevention in humans.
"This should be done in tandem with educational campaigns that focuses on basic rabies knowledge, responsible dog ownership, bite prevention and animal welfare," she said.
World Rabies Day is a global health observance marked to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide.
The theme for this year is “End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate.”