There is a good chance you know someone who has had a rabies vaccine, you may even have had one yourself. If you have travelled to countries in Africa or Asia, or work with animals that could present a risk then a rabies vaccination is highly recommended.
But what if you live in a country where rabies is always a risk?
Common sense would suggest that people in those countries would be more likely to receive the vaccine, as they are far more vulnerable to the disease than someone who is only visiting. In reality the opposite is true.
Whilst there are many reasons why the vaccine is less accessible to those who need it most, there is one key thing that needs to be considered.
The human rabies vaccination is not enough to protect communities against rabies.
A human vaccine may seem the obvious solution to this disease, but it is merely a sticking plaster and doesn't address the source of the problem.
Addressing only the human impact from this terrible disease not only ignores the suffering of thousands of innocent dogs, it also ignores the source of the problem. In order to stop the spread of rabies we need create herd immunity amongst dogs. If the dogs do not get rabies, they can't pass it on to people, stopping the disease in its tracks.
For the cost of vaccinating one person following a bite, approximately 42 dogs can be vaccinated.
Rabies disproportionately affects the world’s poorest people. For communities where people are already live in the most challenging of circumstances, there is little option protect themselves from the threat of rabies. Many of these communities are in remote rural locations, far from hospitals providing post-exposure treatment.
In the event of a bite from a rabid dog, the cost of travel alone is often prohibitive, let alone the cost of treatment once they reach the clinic. And so families must live with the torturous fear that signs of rabies develop, signalling the start of an irreversible progression to inevitable death over several days.
The rabies vaccine for dogs costs far less than the human vaccine. By vaccinating enough dogs in a rabies hotspot, we can stop the disease before it is a threat to people.
There have been no human deaths in Goa from rabies in nearly three years, thanks to Mission Rabies programme of canine vaccination, surveillance and education in close collaboration with the Government of Goa.
By vaccinating dogs and educating people we can reduce the burden on stretched public health infrastructure, protect dogs from inhumane culling through fear of the disease and most importantly prevents the unnecessary suffering and needless deaths of countless people and dogs across the world.
The post-exposure human vaccine requires multiple injections, given over a period of three to four weeks. Now imagine you live miles from a hospital and will lose vital income every time you have to go to the hospital, as well as having to pay a large amount for the vaccine.
Fact: Vaccinating dogs and educating communities is the safest, cheapest and most effective way to stop rabies.
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