World Rabies Day is on 28 September and Australian-based international animal charity Vets Beyond Borders is highlighting the importance of vaccinating dogs to help prevent the spread of the deadly rabies virus.
Rabies kills nearly 60,000 people around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals by biting another animal or a person, and it is always fatal once clinical symptoms appear. An estimated 5.5 billion plus people live at daily risk of rabies.
“Rabies is nearly always fatal but it’s 100 per cent preventable by vaccination,” said Maryann Dalton, CEO of Vets Beyond Borders, which deploys volunteer veterinarians and veterinary nurses across the globe to deliver animal health and community awareness programs where they are desperately needed.
“Australia does not have rabies. But we need to bring this deadly dog-mediated disease to the Australian public’s attention.”
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture is warning the virus could reach Australia’s shores at any time as it spreads across our northern neighbours. There is the risk of yachts carrying rabies-infected dogs from Indonesia landing on Australia’s northern coastline and mixing with dingoes and community cats and dogs.
If these dogs become infected with rabies, they would be a huge threat to the health and safety of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people living in northern Australia communities.
This year’s World Rabies Day awareness theme is Rabies: Vaccinate to Eliminate and highlights the importance of keeping dogs vaccinated, helping people in need to seek and obtain life-saving treatment (post-exposure prophylaxis), and committing to the 2030 goal of eliminating rabies by death.
“Dog bites cause almost all human cases of rabies,” Dalton said. “We can prevent rabies deaths through increased awareness, vaccinating dogs to prevent disease at its source, and timely lifesaving post-bite treatment for people.”
Click here or Vets Beyond Border’s #WorldRabiesDay awareness campaign.