World Rabies Day is on September 28 and Australian-based internationalanimal charity Vets Beyond Borders is highlighting the importance ofvaccinating dogs to help prevent the spread of the deadly rabies virus.

Rabies kills nearly 60,000 people around the world every year, according tothe World Health Organisation. The virus is spread through the saliva ofinfected animals by biting another animal or a person, and it is always fatalonce clinical symptoms appear. An estimated 5.5 billion plus people live atdaily risk of rabies 1. Thankfully, Australia is free from this disease.

“Rabies is nearly always fatal but it’s 100 per cent preventable byvaccination,” said Maryann Dalton, CEO of Vets Beyond Borders, which deploysvolunteer veterinarians and veterinary nurses across the globe to deliveranimal health and community awareness programs where they are desperatelyneeded. “Australia does not have rabies. But we need to bring this deadly dog-mediated disease to the Australian public’s attention.”

Rabies warning in Australia

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture is warning the virus couldreach Australia’s shores at any time as it spreads across our northernneighbours. There is the risk of yachts or fishing vessels carrying rabies-infected dogs from Indonesia landing on Australia’s northern coastline andmixing with dingoes and community cats and dogs. If these dogs become infectedwith rabies, they would be a huge threat to the health and safety of theAboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people living in northern Australiacommunities.

This year’s World Rabies Day awareness theme is Rabies: Vaccinate toEliminate and highlights the importance of keeping dogs vaccinated, helpingpeople in need to seek and obtain life-saving treatment (post-exposureprophylaxis), and committing to the 2030 goal of eliminating rabies deaths.

“Dog bites cause almost all human cases of rabies,” said Ms Dalton. “We canprevent rabies deaths through increased awareness, vaccinating dogs to preventdisease at its source, and timely life-saving post-bite treatment for people.”

VBB anti-rabies program eliminating dog-mediated deaths

Vets Beyond Borders has been running animal birth control and anti-rabiesprograms in India (which carries a third of the world’s rabies burden) fornearly 15 years, providing canine rabies vaccination, humane dog populationcontrol, community education and treatment of sick and injured animals.

“VBB’s Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) program is the firststate-wide rabies program and has demonstrated successful near elimination ofthis dog- mediated disease 2 ,” said Ms Dalton. __

“Vets Beyond Borders provides the volunteers and facilitates clinical skilldevelopment of local vets,” she said. “We need funds to purchase medicalequipment and vaccinations to treat street dogs for distemper, parvo andrabies.”

For more information about Vets Beyond Borders’ animal health and communityawareness programs, please visit www.vetsbeyondborders.org **

Click here **for Vets Beyond Border’s #WorldRabiesDay awarenesscampaign. How can you help prevent the spread of rabies? ****

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture has released aneducational video, ‘Keep a Top Watch’ on rabies in the community, as well asinformation on the signs of rabies.

The public can help prevent the introduction and spread of rabies by alwaysdeclaring animals brought into Australia and immediately reporting anysuspected case of rabies by phoning the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotlineon 1800 675 888

1 Global Alliance for Rabies Control __

2 Eliminating Dog-Mediated Rabies in Sikkim, India: A 10-Year Pathway toSuccess for the SARAH Program. ____

Frontiers in Veterinary Science Journal (March 2017). ____

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