World Rabies Day was observed yesterday in many countries around the world. This year’s theme was: “Rabies: Facts, not Fear.”

Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals) that is caused by a virus.

According to the World Health Organization, the disease infects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through close contact with infected saliva via bites/scratches. Infected dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths.

The CDC estimates that more than 59,000 people around the world die from the disease each year even though rabies is totally preventable.

About 2,000 to 5,000 of these deaths occur in Pakistan according to the Pakistan Health Research Council (PHRC). There is no robust national surveillance or control program and availability of the rabies vaccine or antibodies (rabies immunoglobulin) is limited. A lack of awareness and resources further compounds the problem.

This year’s theme is focused on combating misinformation and myths about the disease. Hopefully it will help us develop and implement effective strategies such as vaccinating and sterilizing stray dog populations.

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