160 people die of rabies every day, says major new study

April 16, 2015, Global Alliance for Rabies Control
An African child holds their dog during vaccination. Credit: Dr. Katie Hampson

A global study on canine rabies, published today (16 April 2015), has found that 160 people die every single day from the disease. The report is the first study to consider the impact in terms of deaths and the economic costs of rabies across all countries. Even though the disease is preventable, the study says that around 59,000 people die every year of rabies transmitted by dogs.

The multi-author study, by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control's Partners for Rabies Prevention Group, also shows that annual economic losses because of the disease are around 8.6 billion US dollars, mostly due to premature deaths, but also because of spending on human vaccines, lost income for victims of animal bites and other costs.

"This ground-breaking study is an essential step towards improved control and eventual elimination of rabies," says Professor Louis Nel, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC). "An understanding of the actual burden helps us determine and advocate for the resources needed to tackle this fatal disease."

Led by Dr Katie Hampson of the University of Glasgow, the study is the first to estimate the impact of canine rabies and the extent of control efforts in every country in the world.

Dr Hampson explains, "The breadth of data used in this study, from surveillance reports to epidemiological study data to global vaccine sales figures, is far greater than ever analysed before, allowing this more detailed output."

The study finds that overwhelmingly the greatest risk of canine rabies is in the poorest countries; the death rate (deaths / 100,000 people) is highest in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, while India has the highest number of fatalities, with over 20,000 human deaths annually. The proportion of dogs vaccinated is far below that necessary to control the disease across almost all countries of Africa and Asia.

African boys are shown with dogs waiting in line for vaccination. Credit: Dr. Katie Hampson

Rabies is close to 100% fatal, but it is also almost 100% preventable, and the best, most cost-effective way of preventing canine rabies is by vaccinating dogs. This needs to be supplemented by improving access to human vaccines.

According to the report, this One Health approach to eliminating rabies deaths, with collaboration between the human and animal health sectors, can save many lives and significantly reduce the burden on vulnerable economies. Indeed, the countries that have invested most in dog vaccination are the ones where human deaths from the disease have been virtually eliminated.

An Asian girl holds her puppy. Credit: Dr. Katie Hampson

The study also emphasises that reporting systems are fundamental to rabies elimination, to monitor and assess the success of prevention efforts.

"No one should die of rabies and GARC and its partners will continue to work together using a One Health approach towards global rabies elimination," concludes Professor Nel.

Explore further: Study exposes shocking lack of rabies reporting in countries where risk is greatest

Related Stories

Study exposes shocking lack of rabies reporting in countries where risk is greatest

February 19, 2015
The first global survey of rabies reporting systems, published this week, has uncovered a shocking lack of preparedness against this deadly disease across Africa and Asia. Accurate reporting of rabies cases to authorities ...

International collaboration essential in fight against rabies, new study finds

March 26, 2015
A new study, published today in the journal PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases has given new insights into the spread of rabies in the Middle East, showing that the deadly disease regularly moves between countries in the region.

Philippines seeks to end rabies deaths in two years

March 10, 2014
The Philippines plans to vaccinate seven million dogs within two years to end its status as one of the world's most rabies-prone nations, the health department said Monday.

Canine vaccinations effective deterrent to rabies in Africa

January 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Yale School of Public Health researchers have found that annual canine vaccination campaigns not only stop the spread of rabies, a potentially deadly disease, but are cost-effective and may actually save ...

Recommended for you

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.