By Angel MedFlight Contributor
It’s a disease that is responsible for more than 55,000 deaths each year worldwide — that’s approximately one death every 10 minutes. The disease is rabies and almost half of the victims are children under the age of 15. In its continued support of health initiatives, both domestic and worldwide, we at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance would like to tell you more about the disease and World Rabies Day which is September 28.
Here in the United States, great strides have been made against the disease, in fact — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — canine rabies , the type of rabies that spreads from dog to dog, has been eliminated in the U.S. Today the animals that get rabies most often in the U.S. are wild animals. More than 90 percent of all animal rabies cases reported each year to the CDC occur in animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.
Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through the infected saliva of a host to an uninfected host. Bites are the most common form of transmission. In humans, rabies is 100 percent preventable if there is prompt and appropriate medical care available.
But canine rabies continues to go uncontrolled in other parts of the world. It’s a huge problem in Africa and Asia where it threatens not only humans but animals as well. The CDC and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) have co-sponsored World Rabies Day since 2007. Its purpose is to unite people around the world in preventing the disease. GARC says on its website, “When people know about rabies, understand how it is transmitted and what to do when a person is exposed to the virus, lives are saved.”
There are a number of key challenges in preventing rabies worldwide. First is the lack of awareness. According to GARC, the problem exists at all levels of society including those most at risk to governments. There is also a lack of coordination because rabies is a zoonotic disease (transmitted between animals and humans). Agencies need to unite to fight the problem. Another key challenge is the lack of quality vaccines and sufficient availability. Vaccines must be affordable and networks must be set up to supply them.
Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance encourages you on World Rabies Day to take steps to help prevent and control rabies. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the disease is to avoid contact with wild animals. Also, take your pets to a veterinarian for an annual rabies shot, which can protect them from getting the disease. The CDC says animals that have not received a rabies shot and are exposed to rabies must be quarantined for six months, or put down.
A number of animal hospitals and clinics will be providing free rabies vaccines on Sept. 27th and 28th. A full list of World Rabies Day events can be found on the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website.