World Rabies Day is celebrated annually on 28th September to raise awareness about rabies prevention. 28 September marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur's death, who developed the first rabies vaccine and laid the foundations of rabies prevention. It is an opportunity to unite as a community and for individuals, NGOs and governments to connect and share their work.
Each year a different theme is selected for World Rabies Day. The theme for this 13th World Rabies Day is-
Rabies: Vaccinate to eliminate.
The theme focuses on vaccination which is the foundation of all rabies control efforts. The slogan is to raise awareness at different levels like vaccination of dogs, helping people in need of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and commitment to the 2030 goal.
What is rabies?
Rabies is an infectious viral disease. It is always fatal by the time its symptoms start appearing, but it is entirely preventable. In spite of this, an estimated 59,000 people die from rabies every year in the world, with 90% of deaths occurring in children living in rural areas of Africa and Asia.
Rabies is a major public health problem in India killing an estimated 20,000 people annually. It is endemic throughout the country with the exception of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
It is transmitted from animals to humans and about 99% of human cases are caused by dog bite. Virus enters the human body from the saliva of rabid animal from bite wounds and scratches. Symptoms of rabies appear 1-3 months after dog bite.
Children (between the ages of 5 and 15 years) are more susceptible to dog bite and rabies because of their playful nature; often play with dogs without awareness of bite and disease. Children often conceal their bites/wounds from parents for fear of being scolded. Sometimes children attacked by dogs are not aware of the bite/ scratch and parents often ignore the attack or simply treat the wounds by applying indigenous products such as hot peppers or turmeric.
Prevention of rabies-
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has implemented “National Rabies Control Programme” with an objective to prevent the human deaths due to rabies & to prevent transmission of rabies through canine (dog) rabies control*.
According to the programme, public awareness should be created about rabies, about various preventive measures and importance of seeking medical care immediately after an animal bite. People should be educated about following facts-
If dog bites→ wash with soap and water for 10 minutes→ go to health centre→ take post bite treatment (Care of wound +Post exposure prophylaxis)
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