World Rabies Day Coordinates Events, Raises Awareness

On Sept. 28, the world is again joining together to raise awareness and understanding about the importance of rabies prevention. Rabies is the oldest and deadliest disease known to mankind.

Led by the Alliance for Rabies Control and supported by numerous human and animal health organizations worldwide, World Rabies Day is a unique campaign that brings together hundreds of thousands of people across the world to reinforce the message that rabies is a preventable disease, yet kills 55,000 people needlessly each year, half of which are children under the age of 15.

World Rabies Day logo

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is transmitted mainly by bite, but exposure can also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal. Once neurologic symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

The good news is that rabies is easily preventable. "Vaccination prior to possible exposure is a crucial part of health management of domestic animals, and is the single most important factor in rabies prevention," said Peter Costa, global communications coordinator for the Alliance for Rabies Control.

Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Protect yourself, your animals and your community by having you animals vaccinated. Avoid stray animals and wildlife. If you are bitten, wash bite wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. If your animal is bitten, consult your veterinarian immediately. Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop rabies infection and/or prevent the disease in humans and animals.

The World Rabies Day initiative also raises money towards local rabies prevention and control programs, with five projects funded in 2008.

More information on World Rabies Day can be found at the official Web site, Worldrabiesdy.org.  

Read more about last year's inaugural event, and about rabies and horses.

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