Every nine minutes, someone in the world dies of rabies

October 1, 2015, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A human death from rabies is a tragic but rare thing in the United States and most developed nations. It's just as tragic but sadly common in parts of the world where some 3 billion people are at risk of being bitten by a rabid dog. More than 59,000 people die of rabies each year because they cannot get the care they need. That's about 1 person dying of rabies every 9 minutes.

Most of these deaths are in Africa and Asia, and nearly half of the victims are children under the age of 15. Many of these lives can be saved if bite victims and healthcare providers know what to do and have what they need — vaccine and immunoglobulin.

"Measures to prevent rabies in people are simple: wash the wound right after you are bitten and get follow-up care and vaccination immediately," said Ryan Wallace, veterinary epidemiologist with CDC. "However, the primary method of prevention, and the more cost-effective intervention in the fight against rabies, is vaccination of domestic pets, particularly dogs."

Today is World Rabies Day, an opportunity for people around the world to learn more about the impact that rabies has on people and animals and what each of us can do to put the world on the path toward eliminating rabies. This year's theme is End Rabies Together, which challenges individuals and organizations to pull together to end the needless suffering and deaths caused by this preventable disease.

The fact that so few people in the United States and other developed nations get rabies shows that the disease can be controlled. Canine rabies has been eliminated in the United States, thanks to routine dog vaccinations and licensing and better control of stray dogs. Since the control of canine rabies in the United States, it has now been recognized that numerous wild animals can be infected with this disease. For that reason, people still must remain aware of the risk of rabies and seek medical care when exposed to wildlife and unusually acting animals.

To combat rabies, CDC works with many partners, including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), World Health Organization, Humane Society International, National Association of Public Health Veterinarians, and American Veterinary Medical Association. Together, these partners have made great strides toward eliminating rabies in countries hard hit by rabies.

For example, in Ethiopia, which has reported some of the highest rates of human and animal rabies deaths in the world, a project is under way to control canine rabies through activities such as education, mass dog vaccination clinics, spay-neuter campaigns, establishment of new laboratories to diagnose rabies in dogs, and training to show veterinarians how to safely capture and humanely euthanize dogs suspected of having rabies. CDC and partners are working together to establish the first rabies-free zone in Ethiopia and ultimately end canine rabies in this country.

Progress is also being made in Haiti, one of the last remaining countries in the Americas where rabies infection in dogs is common and many people do not know what to do after they are bitten by a dog. Free-roaming dogs and a shortage of are also problems in some areas of the country. The key to preventing rabies deaths is educating people about rabies and controlling by testing and vaccinating dogs. Earlier this month, Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Public Health worked with CDC and partners to hold rabies control workshops in collaboration with U.S. Army veterinarians as part of the USNS Comfort's scheduled stop at Port-au-Prince. The workshops' intent was to raise awareness about rabies, establish a national rabies task force, enhance teachers' roles in preventing rabies among children, and provide rabies education certification for veterinary professionals. During the USNS Comfort's visit in Haiti, CDC and partners vaccinated about 500 dogs against rabies. The Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate 80,000 dogs over the next few weeks.

This year's World Rabies Day theme, End Rabies Together, encourages individuals, businesses, and organizations around the world to work together to end rabies deaths.

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

Related Stories

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

April 16, 2015
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 ...

WHO says the international community must do more to take action against rabies

July 16, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organisation urges the global community to accelerate action against rabies and other neglected zoonotic diseases.

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.

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 ...

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.