Rabies is a viral, zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) disease, first recorded more than 4,000 years ago. It is 100% fatal once symptoms appear and, today, still kills more than 59,000 people a year, mainly in Africa and Asia, and mostly children. That is one person every 9 minutes. 99% of all human rabies cases are caused by the bite of an infected dog. As well as human deaths, rabies is also responsible for millions of dogs being killed inhumanely each year around the world, because of the fear of rabies.
Removing the fear of rabies, by eliminating human deaths due to the disease, will also lead to improved attitudes towards all dogs, including roaming dogs.
Rabies is 100% preventable, good vaccines have been around for many years. Focusing on the mass vaccination of dogs can save the lives of thousands of dogs and people.
What we do/have done to date
In 2013, Dogs Trust helped launch Mission Rabies https://missionrabies.com/ in India and we continue to be the major funder to Mission Rabies around the world. The state of Goa in India became the first Indian state to be declared “Rabies-controlled" in 2021, with no human rabies deaths in the state since 2017. This was achieved largely through Mission Rabies administering >80,000 dog vaccinations annually and educating more than 1 million children on how to stay safe around dogs and what to do if bitten. In addition, the use of an app to track vaccinations, a hotline for people to report suspected rabid dogs and good surveillance have all been part of this success, in partnership with the State Government.
More widely in India, the Mission Rabies Truck travels around the country delivering training to local vets, outreach programmes, neutering services, and vaccinating dogs against rabies
In Malawi, our work through Mission Rabies started in 2015 in Blantyre city and has since been vaccinating 100,000 dogs a year and reaching 80% of government primary schools with the rabies education programme.
What we’ll do
Rabies is preventable; we aim to be part of the solution eliminating human deaths due to rabies and stopping dogs being indiscriminately killed due to the fear of rabies.
There are 3 main pillars contributing to that goal:
Mass vaccination of dogs (70% in a community annually
Education, especially of children, to be safe around dogs and what to do if bitten.
Data gathering and surveillance
On the ground we will continue our work with our partners, carrying out mass vaccination campaigns of dogs wherever the need is greatest and educating children. We will work particularly in India which is a rabies hotspot.
At the international level we are a Member of United Against Rabies (UAR),signed up to the global aim of “Zero by 30: the global strategic plan to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.” United against Rabies https://www.unitedagainstrabies.org/who-we-are/is a forum launched in 2020 by The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH, formally OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).