Every year, September 28 is observed as World Rabies Day – a health observance started in 2007, to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide. While rabies is a 100 percent preventable disease, more than 59,000 people die from the disease around the world each year. The theme for 2020 is ‘End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate’.
This day is also the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist, who developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies.
Few facts about the disease according to World Health Organization (WHO):
- Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans
- Interrupting transmission is feasible through vaccination of dogs and prevention of dog bites
- Infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mainly in Asia and Africa
- Globally rabies causes an estimated cost of US$ 8.6 billion per year
- 40 percent of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age
- Immediate, thorough wound washing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal is crucial and can save lives
- WHO leads the collective “United Against Rabies” to drive progress towards “Zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, more than 29 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.
Mexico became the first country to have been validated by WHO in 2019 for eliminating human deaths from dog-mediated rabies.
Dr Chandrasekhar, CEO of Jain Group of Institutions, who has been fighting for the prevention of rabies for the 5 years, has a Bangalore-based NGO – Dr. Shampur Madhusudhana Trust (Regd.), founded in 2017, whose project Rabies Free India, works in eliminating rabies, creating awareness among schools and low income communities.
Grade VII students of JHCS, Shamirpet, which is part of JGI Schools, conducted a special assembly regarding the “World Rabies Day” on September 28, 2020 to spread awareness about the disease. When asked the event, Dr Chandrasekhar said, “Every year their are close to 50,000 deaths across the world, which happen as a result of rabies and majority of these deaths are due to dog bites. 40 percent of the annual deaths are in children below 15 years. The reason we are targeting schools and and institutions is to bring in awareness among children because they are the ones who spend more time with dogs and are hence, more prone to dog bites – whether it is street or pet dogs. We have taken this initiative since the last couple of years.”
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