World Rabies Day reminds travellers about the risk of rabies in India

World Rabies Day recognized on September 28th, 2011 should serve as a timely reminder of the risk of rabies for those planning a trip to Asia. World Rabies Day aims to raise global awareness of rabies prevention and control and is particularly relevant for those planning to visit friends and relatives in India.

Rabies is a fatal disease transmitted mainly by contact with infected dogs but can also be spread by monkeys and other animals in rabies endemic areas.1 The disease kills an estimated 55,000 people every year with the vast majority (95%) of deaths occurring in Asia and Africa.1

In fact, more than one in three (36%) of the world’s rabies deaths occur in India,2 where someone dies from rabies every 30 minutes.3 Most of those infected are children who have come into contact with infected dogs.2  Overall, about 15 million people are bitten by animals in India every year.3 According to reports, more than 20,000 of those bitten go on to develop rabies and eventually die.2,3

However, as rabies is not a notifiable disease in India and there is no organised surveillance system of human or animal cases, the actual number of deaths caused by rabies may be much higher.3

Rabies is transmitted following a bite, a scratch or a lick. After getting into the body, the virus spreads through the central nervous system and progresses to the brain. Once the central nervous system is infected, the outcome of the disease is fatal.

The mean incubation period is two to three months, but may range from several days to years.1

Children are at a higher risk of contracting rabies1 since they are less wary of unfamiliar dogs than adults and therefore are more often bitten on the face or extremities.

Vaccination remains the only effective treatment against rabies and acts by neutralising the virus before it actually reaches the central nervous system.

The World Health Organisation recommends rabies vaccination for anyone at increased risk of exposure to the rabies virus, including travellers to areas with a high risk of rabies.1

Anyone intending to travel overseas to developing countries should see their doctor for health advice at least six weeks before departure.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi Group, is a supporter of World Rabies Day.

For more information, please visit: www.worldrabiesday.org.

About World Rabies Day

World Rabies Day is observed annually on September 28th and is the single largest rabies education and outreach initiative ever founded. Since 2007, World Rabies Day observances in 135 countries have helped to inform and educate millions of people about rabies prevention. World Rabies Day has three objectives: to educate people in developing countries on the risk of rabies, to promote global awareness of its devastating toll and how the disease can be prevented, and to mobilize resources to support local rabies prevention programs.

The World Rabies Day campaign was initiated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control and unites private and public sectors, international institutions and national governments to take action against the deadliest disease known to man.

For more information, please visit:  www.worldrabiesday.org.

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control is the foremost non-profit organization dedicated to preventing rabies throughout the world. It was established to bring together public and private expertise in the field of rabies, including medical, veterinary, wildlife and animal welfare agencies, to utilize a ‘one medicine’ approach to establish effective and sustainable rabies prevention programs. The Alliance coordinates the World Rabies Day campaign and works alongside its partner institutions and organizations to extend the current scope and impact of World Rabies Day initiatives. www.globalrabiescontrol.org

References

1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/ . Accessed 21/09/2011.

2. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/12/09-021209/en/index.html . Accessed 21/09/2011.

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2244675/ . Accessed 21/09/2011.

 

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