September 28 is World Rabies Day, a global health observance that seeks to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts. Co-sponsored by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC) since 2007, World Rabies Day has been celebrated in countries throughout the world.
Rabies is a human infection that occurs after a transdermal bite or scratch by an infected animal, like dogs and cats. It can be transmitted when infectious material, usually saliva, comes into direct contact with a victim’s fresh skin lesions. Rabies may also occur, though in very rare cases, through inhalation of virus-containing spray or through corneal and organ transplants.
Each year around the world, rabies results in more than 55,000 deaths – approximately one death every 10 minutes. Most deaths are reported from Africa and Asia with almost 50% of the victims being children under the age of 15. It is considered to be a neglected disease, which is 100% fatal though 100% preventable. In the Philippines, it is not among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity but it is regarded as a significant public health problem because (1) it is one of the most acutely fatal infection and (2) it is responsible for the death of 200-300 Filipinos annually. Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is nearly always fatal.
There is no established treatment for rabies; however it may be prevented. Several initiatives at can be undertaken to minimize death due to rabies, such proper wound care, provision of pre-exposure treatment to high risk personnel and post exposure prophylaxis to animal bite victims; provision of free routine immunization or pre-exposure prophylaxis; mass vaccination of dogs, establishment of a central base system for registered and vaccinated dogs; impounding, field control and disposition of unregistered, stray and unvaccinated dogs; and conduct of information and education campaign on the prevention and control of Rabies.
In Longo, D. L., Fauci, A. S., Kasper, D. L., Hauser, S. L., Jameson, J. L., and Loscalzo (Eds.), Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (Vol. 1; 18th ed.; pp. 1611-1616). United States of America: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
National Rabies Prevention and Control Program Manual of Operations (2012). Retrieved from http://www.doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/FINALMOP6.4.13WORDRADMay30.pdf
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia Frequently Asked Questions on Rabies (2013)