world-rabies-day-logoToday is World Rabies Day, a global campaign to help prevent the world’s most fatal disease. This annual event, now in its tenth year, is facilitated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), a non-profit organization committed to eliminating human deaths from rabies by 2030.

This year’s theme is “Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate.” Working together against rabies helps people and animals live safely together against rabies. In King County, all cats and dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies. All pets adopted from Regional Animal Services receive their initial vaccinations, but pet owners are responsible for ensuring that their pet’s shots are kept up to date.

According to Professor Louis Nel, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, “We can save the lives of tens of thousands of people that die needlessly each year from rabies by raising awareness of the disease and taking the correct preventative measures.”

Around 59,000 people die from rabies annually, with more than 99% of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. Most of these deaths are a result of being bitten by an infected dog. Up to 60% of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.

Dogs are major victims of the disease as well, with up to 20 million killed every year worldwide as a result of mass culling through misguided attempts to curb the disease. Rabies is 99.9% fatal, but it is also 100% preventable. Eliminating the disease by vaccinating pets protects them and stops transmission to people. But despite the existence of effective, relatively low cost solutions to control animal rabies, people and animals are still dying because of rabies.

World Rabies Day, held in late September every year, was initiated by GARC in 2007 to create a global opportunity for people to unite in rabies prevention. Since then, it has grown every year, with hundreds of thousands of people organizing and participating in local, regional, and national events. Learn more at World Rabies Day.