A new campaign is calling for an end to human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030.

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

The End Rabies Now campaign urges the international community to step up efforts to eliminate human deaths due to canine-mediated rabies around the world in just 15 years’ time.

End Rabies Now is an initiative of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and other global organisations. Campaign partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Veterinary Association and World Animal Protection.

The campaign will call for more funds for mass dog vaccination, considered the most effective way of eliminating human deaths from rabies, caused predominantly by dog bites.

It is estimated that around 59,000 people die every single year from rabies – that’s a staggering 885,000 lives lost between now and the end of 2030. Victims are usually in impoverished rural areas in Africa and Asia. Most have limited access to healthcare, and treatment can be too expensive.

The campaign will raise awareness in Europe and the United States, where canine rabies has largely been eliminated in most countries in the region, in order to ensure that control programmes are prioritised within international development spending.

Professor Louis Nel, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Rabies Control, said, “We have all the evidence that human deaths from dog-mediated rabies can be eliminated. Rabies can be prevented using a One Health approach with the human and animal health sectors working together.”

Dr Louise Taylor, Spokesperson for the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) said, “No-one should die from rabies. It is entirely preventable. Vaccines have existed since 1885. And yet, even today, 160 people die every day from this horrific disease. We have the clinical know-how to eliminate human deaths from canine rabies – we just need political leadership and funding.”

Endorsing the campaign, adventurer and broadcaster, Major Levison Wood said, “Each death is a tragedy; each death is preventable. Canine rabies has been eliminated in the UK and across the developed world which may explain why we don’t hear much about it in the news. However, canine rabies is very much real. If it can be eliminated here, it can be eliminated across the world.”

Other endorsers of the campaign include Parliament’s only qualified vet Lord Trees, author Prof. Alexander McCall Smith and Prof. David Heymann, Head and Senior Fellow of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House.