COVID-19 has inadvertently created a unique opportunity to share awareness of dog-mediated rabies to a wider audience while the world is cognisant of the reality of humans being affected by viruses of animal origin.
Vets Beyond Borders is harnessing this opportunity to increase awareness of rabies to our Australian audience and international stakeholders.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: 18 SEPT 2020: For #WorldRabiesDay (September 28), Australian-based international animal charity Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) is collaborating with global organisations and experts in an exciting online event to raise awareness about the danger of rabies and the importance of vaccinating animals to reduce the incidence of this deadly viral disease.
Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the origins of viral diseases and animal-to-human transmission have become hot topics. Every year almost 60,000 people die from dog-mediated rabies – tragically children are greatly over-represented, comprising 40% of fatalities in Asia and Africa¹.
“Rabies can infect any mammalian species and is almost invariably lethal once symptoms develop, but thankfully it’s 100% preventable in humans and animals through vaccination,” said Dr Ian Douglas, Director and Chair of Vets Beyond Borders.
“Australia is very fortunate that the rabies virus is not yet present in its animal populations. However, it’s important to bring this deadly disease to public attention, as Australians are the world’s second most frequent travellers² and many have little understanding of the disease.”
The virus is typically spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals, most commonly as a result of dog-bite injury. Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) has estimated that more than 5.5 billion people live at daily risk of rabies infection.
VBB World Rabies Day Online Interview Series
World Rabies Day was established and is coordinated by GARC.
For the World Rabies Day 2020 Australian event, VBB is hosting an online interview series of international animal welfare and public health experts on the topics of rabies; collaborating and vaccinating to prevent humans deaths caused by canine rabies and the challenges faced following the advent of COVID-19.
VBB’s World Rabies Day production will feature experts from organisations around the world, such as GARC, WHO, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), World Animal Protection and Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer and President of the World Organisation for Animal Health, Dr Mark Schipp.
For a full list of speakers, please visit VBB’s website where the full-length video of interviews will also be available to watch on September 28.
VBB World Rabies Day Logo Design
Vets Beyond Borders also recently ran a World Rabies Day logo design competition and congratulates the winner Tiffany Cheung, a veterinary student at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.
VBB has been operating for 17 years vaccinating animals against rabies and assisting local governments in dog population management programs.
In India (where 36 per cent of the world’s rabies deaths occurᶟ), VBB was integral to the establishment of the Sikkim Anti-Rabies & Animal Health (SARAH) Program, which has achieved near elimination of dog-mediated rabies in that state⁴.
“During the 2019/2020 financial year, SARAH staff vaccinated 33,500 dogs against rabies⁵,” said Dr Douglas. “Another important component of VBB’s anti-rabies strategy is to educate local communities about dog-bite prevention and what to do if bitten. VBB provides veterinary volunteers to assist in this vital work and delivers training courses to help local vets refine and develop their clinical skills. We rely on donations to be able to continue to vaccinate street dogs against rabies and other infectious diseases.”
How can you help prevent the spread of rabies?
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture has released an educational video, ‘Keep a Top Watch’ on rabies in the community, as well as information on the signs of rabies.
The public can help prevent the introduction and spread of rabies by always declaring animals brought into Australia and immediately reporting any suspected case of rabies by phoning the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
⁵ Government of Sikkim Dept of Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries and Veterinary Services 2019/2020 Annual Report.