Dog Rabies Kills Over 160 People a Day Worldwide, 1/3 of Deaths in India

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Apr 19, 2015 07:46 AM EDT

A global study has found that there are 160 people who die every day from dog-transmitted rabies and India has the highest number of fatalities from the disease.

The study by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control's Partner for Rabies Prevention Group is led by Dr. Katie Hampson of the University of Glasgow, according to BBC. She says that canine rabies more commonly affects the poorest countries. Deaths are highest in Asia (60%), with India accounting for 35% of the fatalities and in sub-Saharan Africa with 36%

"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."

The report shows that the prevention of rabies deaths will heavily rely on the collaboration of the animal and health sectors. Rabies is very fatal but is also preventable and the best way of minimizing canine rabies from spreading is by vaccinating dogs. Additionally, human vaccines should also be easily accessible as well. Countries who have invested in dog vaccinations are countries with least rabies deaths.

The authors of the study wrote: "Collaborative investments by medical and veterinary sectors could dramatically reduce the current large and unnecessary, burden of rabies on affected communities.

"Improved surveillance is needed to reduce uncertainty in burden estimates and to monitor the impacts of control efforts."

The study also showed that rabies cost $8.6 billion through premature deaths, spending for vaccine, and lost income for bite victims.

"No one should die of rabies and we will continue to work together towards global rabies elimination," Prof. Lous Nel, researcher and executive director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

According to an uncited study by The Times of India, only 70% of people living in India have heard of rabies, only 30% know to wash the wounds after being bitten by an animal, and of those who were bitten, only 60% get appropriately vaccinated.

Experts also said that India's rabies control program is made more severe because of several factors. The Indian populace in general lack awareness and education of preventive measures; dogs have insufficient dog vaccination, poor control of the dog population, and low supply of anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin and lack of knowledge in post-bite vaccine administration in local health care facilities.

Rabies is a viral disease that is easily preventable. This disease can come from many types of rabid mammals, but dogs are the most common cause of rabies deaths in humans, according to the World Health Organization.

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