Today, Sept 28, is World Rabies Day. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of this event which is coordinated by the non-profit organization Global Alliance for Rabies Control. It has been endorsed by many various health organizations such as the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Organization for Animal Heath. The theme for this year is Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate. World rabies Day aims to raise awareness about the impact of rabies on both humans and animals and provide information and advice on how to prevent the disease.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and usually within days of the onset of symptoms, death. Early symptoms of the disease are similar to many other common illnesses, including fever, headache and general weakness. As the disease progresses, more symptoms appear. These symptoms include anxiety, slight or partial paralysis, agitation, hallucination and an increase in saliva production with difficulty swallowing. Most commonly the virus is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal in the infected saliva. Animals that are common carriers of rabies are skunks, bats, foxes and raccoons.
In the United States and most of North America death due to rabies is rare in large part due to vaccination programs and successful animal control . However, rabies is a significant health problem in many countries in the world. It is estimated to cause as many as 59,000 human deaths every year. World Rabies day is an excellent time to take steps that can help prevent and control rabies, such as vaccinating pets including dogs and cats against the virus. Even though canine rabies has all but been eliminated here, we still need to keep our dogs and cats vaccinated to prevent this kind of virus coming back and to protect our pets from rabies viruses they could get from wildlife.