Tuesday, September 28, 2010 marked World Rabies Day, a day meant to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies. While rabies does not pose an imminent threat for many, worldwide an estimated 55,000 people die annually of the virus – a rate of one person every ten minutes. Over 99% of human rabies deaths occur after exposure to rabid dogs. In just the past week, rabies has made headline news in several parts of the world:
- The popular tourist island of Bali is currently undergoing a mass vaccination campaign, as rabies has killed 93 people since 2008.
- A recent report highlighted that rabies kills approximately 100 people a year in Nepal.
- Five children have died, bringing the total number of rabies deaths to twenty, in an indigenous jungle community of Peru. It is estimated that over 3,500 people have been bitten by vampire bats, however post-exposure prophylaxis is limited, and some indigenous people have reportedly refused treatment.
- Gauteng, South Africa is on high alert after a young girl from Soweto died of suspected rabies on September 25th.
- Vietnam is re-examining dog consumption as rabies cases are on the rise.