Feature: Mass Vaccinations Could Eradicate Rabies

Rabies experts and doctors have a plan that could eliminate the disease, which kills tens of thousands of people worldwide each year. The plan calls for mass vaccinations of dogs–something that’s already been tested successfully in Latin America, parts of Africa and Southeast Asia.

“There is now convincing evidence that vaccination of dogs would eliminate greater than 98 percent of the rabies health burden globally,” says veterinarian Guy Palmer, an infectious disease specialist, who’s been conducting research on rabies and vaccination programs for nearly 20 years. “If we can get around 60% we can actually control a disease outbreak. We don’t need to vaccinate every dog. We need to vaccinate somewhere around 60%.”

“We now have about 15 years of experience with this. And if you continue these vaccination campaigns, you completely suppress rabies. The challenge is how do you get away from this model we have now, which is donor driven. It costs us about three dollars to vaccinate a dog in those regions and that’s not something that’s, at the moment, sustainable by either the individuals nor by the government. Using country-wide approaches, it’s possible to actually move rabies out of a region and then vaccinate only around the periphery to control the disease. To do that what we’ve really got to do is reduce costs,” he tells Voice of America.

Palmer is director of Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. Read more here:

For more information, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control

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