By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that Mexico became the first country in the world to receive WHO validation for eliminating dog-transmitted rabies as a public health problem.

Close-up of a dog’s face during late-stage “dumb” paralytic rabies/CDC

“Eliminating rabies doesn’t happen by accident,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It takes political resolve, careful planning and meticulous execution. I congratulate the Government of Mexico on this wonderful achievement and hope many other countries will follow its example.”

WHO reportsIn order to achieve elimination, the country has implemented a national strategy for the control and elimination of rabies. This includes free, mass vaccination campaigns for dogs, that have taken place since the 1990’s with more than 80% coverage; continuous and effective surveillance; public awareness-raising campaigns; timely diagnosis; and the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis in the country’s public health services. 

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As a result, the country went from registering 60 cases of human rabies transmitted by dogs in 1990, to 3 cases in 1999, and zero cases in 2006. The last two cases occurred in two people from the State of Mexico, who were attacked in 2005 and presented symptoms in 2006.  

Rabies causes 60 thousand deaths each year, mainly in Asia and Africa. In Latin America and the Caribbean, new cases of rabies were reduced by more than 95% in humans and 98% in dogs since 1983.

In recent years, Mexico had eliminated onchocerciasis in 2015 and trachoma in 2017.