The BVA’s Overseas Group is supporting the third annual World Rabies Day by urging UKvets to raise their clients’ awareness of theimplications of the disease when they travel abroad.
Organisations around the world will be aiming to raise awareness andunderstanding about the importance of rabies prevention on World Rabies Day on September 28.
Zoe Belshaw, a member of the Overseas Group, said: “While we are used to discussing the risks of rabies to pets, most vets probably know much less about the risks of rabies to humans. World Rabies Day is an ideal time to promote understanding of this devastating but preventable disease.”
Rabies kills at least 55,000 people each year, half of which are children under the age of 15.
The Overseas Group has produced some information and guidance on the disease which is available from the BVA website. It offers simple advice on reducing the risk of contracting the disease and gives guidance on vaccination and wound cleansing. It also aims to dispel some common misconceptions – such as that a deep bite is necessary for the disease to be contracted.
“A lick on broken skin or mucous membranes or a scratch from an infected animal is sufficient,” it points out.
Deborah Briggs, executive director of the Alliance for Rabies Control, said: “Rabies is primarily a disease of children, who are particularly at risk from this terrible disease, due to their close contact with dogs, the major global source.
“Children are more likely to suffer multiple bites and scratches to the face and head, both of which carry a higher risk of contracting rabies. Children are often unaware of the danger that dogs transmit rabies and may not tell their parents when a bite, lick or scratch has occurred from an infected animal.”
The World Rabies Day initiative aims to bring together relevant partners in an effort to address rabies prevention and control.
Dr Briggs said: “This is a coordinated effort to let the world know that this disease can be readily prevented through education, pet vaccination and increased human awareness of proper wound management and administration of rabies vaccination after an exposure has occurred.”
Taiwanese team member image, credit Dr Andrew Fei