Louis Pasteur, who’s experimental protocol saved the life of a child mauled by a rabid dog, died on September 28, 1895 in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. In honor of his work, September 28 every year has been designated as World Rabies Day, when the world unites in the fight against rabies. World Rabies Day is a day of activism and awareness.
Researchers at Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health say the key to the eradication of this nearly 100% fatal disease without post exposure prophylaxis is immunization of dogs.
In a policy forum published in Science Friday, they discuss evidence supporting the feasibility of eliminating canine-mediated rabies in the paper, “Implementing Pasteur’s vision for rabies elimination”.
To stop the disease among humans, it must be stopped among dogs, the biggest source of transmission. Dog immunization programs are the most viable way to do that, says veterinary infectious disease expert Guy Palmer who directs the WSU Allen school.
Vaccinating dogs is not only effective, but it’s also far less costly than trying to treat victims after they get infected, said Louise Taylor, a biologist with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control and co-author of the article.
Post-exposure treatment for humans – if available at all in impoverished and remote areas – generally requires four shots given over two weeks, Taylor said, adding that, “it’s expensive and time-consuming, especially compared to vaccinating dogs.”
Though human rabies is rarely seen in developed nations that conduct mass vaccination programs, the disease should be viewed as a global public health problem, said Palmer. What’s more, because infections occur as a result of interactions between animals and people, a “One Health” approach is necessary where veterinary, medical and public health professionals work together to eliminate it.
“I think people tend to lose sight of why we vaccinate our pets, thinking that we do it to protect them from rabies,” he said. “But ultimately, we do it to protect ourselves.”
Rabies remains a threat to half the world’s population and kills more than 69,000 people each year, most of them children. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page