Rabies is everyone’s problem and vaccinating dogs is the solution
A tragic incident in the Philippines is a reminder that this disease is a global issue which we need to solve together
Idyllic palm fringed beaches with the warm sun blazing down and the sounds of lapping waves. Add excitable yaps and the sight of little furry tails wagging from the puppies that play rough and tumble in the sand.
It sounds like the perfect postcard picture, sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, right?
Sadly though, this blissful scene can have a darker side, as a young woman from Norway recently discovered while on holiday in the Philippines.
A single bite from a playful puppy proved to be fatal, which is tragic on so many levels, but mainly because it could have been avoided.
A global problem
Like Norway, your home country might not have rabid dogs. Many countries don’t. It’s easy to see why, when you’re focusing on sights to see, places to go, and what to pack in your suitcase, rabies isn’t at the top of your priority list of considerations.
Even when interacting with local dogs that appear friendly and timid, you might not realise that they’ve contracted the disease. Yet rabies is a serious issue that affects thousands of people each year, and it doesn’t matter what nationality you are – you’re not immune to it.
Almost 60,000 people die from rabies every year, and millions of dogs die from rabies or are killed unnecessarily out of fear of the disease. Even one person, or one dog, who loses their lives to the disease, is a life too many.’.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
How you can take action?
Firstly, before going on holiday, check with a doctor or travel clinic if your destination requires you to be vaccinated against rabies.
Secondly, if you do get bitten by a dog abroad, wash the wound straight away with soap and water. Even a lick on broken skin can transmit rabies. However small the wound is, or even if the skin isn’t broken, find a first aid centre where you can get advice on whether you need a post-exposure rabies vaccination, a tetanus jab or any other treatment.
Finally, the most important thing is, that rabies can and must be eliminated globally. The only way that we can do this is through mass dog vaccination schemes which are effective and are proven to actually work.
Done alongside sterilization, it can massively reduce the risk of rabies. This could drastically transform the lives of people in communities who live in fear of getting bitten, those who visit these areas, and also for the dogs that suffer slow and painful deaths and mistreatment as a result of that fear.
Consider supporting an organisation like World Animal Protection that carries out this treatment for dogs.
We all need to work together
It’s not just the responsibility of one government, one country or the community of dog owners. This is a global issue that will require a global effort, because ultimately, this could affect anyone. The very sad death of Birgitte Kallestad shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be repeated anywhere.
Our teams are not only working on the ground to vaccinate and neuter dogs, but we are also educating and working with government bodies across the world to eliminate rabies.
I am proud to say that we have vaccinated 1.6 million dogs since 2013. And, we are also supporting United Against Rabies Collaboration’s ‘Zero by 30’ initiative to ensure that rabies elimination is prioritized by all governments and that necessary resources are available to eliminate rabies.’
Dogs and people can live side by side in harmony – they are, as the saying goes, “a mans’ best friend”.