According to a new report, 59,000 people die every year from rabies transmitted by dogs, with the poorer regions of the world worst affected.
The study, which was conducted by GARC’s Partners for Rabies Prevention Group, and published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease, states that 160 people die each day from canine rabies, which means that an estimated 59,000 people are thought to die every year as a result of this preventable disease.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that is usually acquired when humans are bitten by infected animals. In most cases it is domestic dogs. Through the prompt administration of a fast-acting shot to bite victims, the disease is entirely preventable. However, in populations with limited access to health care, the disease is prevalent.
Dr. Katie Hampson, postdoctoral student at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and the lead author of the study, said, “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 analyzed before, allowing this more detailed output.”
According to the report, 160 people die every day from the disease, with the vast majority of these occurring in Asia, which accounts for 60% of deaths, and Africa (36%). India alone accounts for 35% of human rabies deaths, more than any other country.
The report also adds that the proportion of dogs vaccinated in almost all countries in Africa and Asia is far below that necessary to control the disease.
The researchers stated that collaborative investments by medical and veterinary sectors could dramatically reduce the current large and unnecessary burden of rabies on affected communities. They also added that improved surveillance is needed to reduce uncertainty in burden estimates and to monitor the impacts of control 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,” added Prof. Louis Nel, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC).