For #WorldRabiesDay on 28 September, Australian-based international animal charity Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) is collaborating with global organisations and experts in an online event to raise awareness about the danger of rabies and the importance of vaccinating animals to reduce the incidence of this deadly viral disease.
Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the origins of viral diseases and animal-to-human transmission have become hot topics. Every year almost 60,000 people die from dog-mediated rabies—tragically children are greatly over-represented, comprising 40 per cent of fatalities in Asia and Africa.
“Rabies can infect any mammalian species and is almost invariably lethal once symptoms develop, but thankfully it’s 100 per cent preventable in humans and animals through vaccination,” Vets Beyond Borders director and chair Dr Ian Douglas said.
“Australia is very fortunate that the rabies virus is not yet present in its animal populations. However, it’s important to bring this deadly disease to public attention, as Australians are the world’s second most frequent travellers and many have little understanding of the disease.”
The virus is typically spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals, most commonly as a result of dog-bite injury. Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) has estimated that more than 5.5 billion people live at daily risk of rabies infection.
World Rabies Day was established and is coordinated by GARC. For the World Rabies Day 2020 Australian event, VBB is hosting an online interview series featuring international animal welfare and public health experts on the topics of rabies; collaborating and vaccinating to prevent human deaths caused by canine rabies; and the challenges faced following the advent of COVID-19.