For many diseases such as rabies that threaten both animal and human health (zoonoses), animal medicine solutions already exist. In many cases also, the most effective and economically viable solution for protecting public health is via prevention of the disease in the animal. Despite this fact rabies remains endemic in Africa, Asia and parts of Latin America and is responsible for around 60,000 deaths per year.
Opening the event, Mr. Ladislav Miko, Deputy Director General DG SANTE, European Commission said, “For a number of years now Europe has managed to successfully control or even eradicate the disease from vast areas of the EU thanks to EU co-financed programmes on oral vaccination of wildlife. The mandatory anti-rabies vaccination of pets moved within and into Europe (EU pet Regulation) is vital against the disease if we are to prevent the re-introduction of this deadly disease."
Professor Louis Nel, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) presented End Rabies Now, the global campaign aimed at ending human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030. “We know we can eliminate canine rabies if we vaccinate 70% of dogs. If international institutions invest more in mass vaccination projects for dogs in areas where the disease is endemic, with the continued support of the animal health industry, together we can make rabies history,” he said.
“The animal health industry has donated millions of canine vaccine doses and provides veterinary training to support global rabies eradication programmes. We support the EU institutions’ intentions to continue financing for rabies control under zoonoses funding and will continue working with local authorities around the world to try to overcome existing challenges for rabies control and ensure that veterinary medicines such as rabies vaccines can be made available and used effectively where needed,” concluded Wijnand de Bruijn, IFAH-Europe President.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• Rabies is a neglected tropical disease. It is 100% preventable by vaccination in animals and people, and yet it remains an under-reported and neglected zoonosis, which is endemic in many of the world’s poorest communities. Dog-to-human transmission accounts for 99% of human rabies cases but it can be eliminated at source by mass canine rabies vaccination campaigns.
• Estimates from GARC suggest that 20 million dogs are culled every year around the world in attempts to keep rabies at bay. In reality, this is ineffective in protecting people from the disease.
• Rabies costs global economies an estimated $124 billion (EUR 110 billion) annually in healthcare. Eliminating rabies from dog populations significantly reduces human exposure to the disease and is currently the single most cost-effective solution.