COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Vets Beyond Borders is an organization dedicated to promote animal and human welfare and preventing the spread of rabies, a virus that continues to pose a significant risk to developing countries, where it causes thousands of human deaths each year. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Vets Beyond Borders CEO Dr Sally Colgan said that “improving the welfare and health of food-producing animals, working animals and domesticated species , including street dogs and cats, can reduce poverty by encouraging sustainable livelihoods, reduce the transmission of zoonotic diseases, and improve human health in low-income communities.

About rabies

Rabies is a preventable animal disease that kills 59,000 humans every year. The rabies virus is an animal disease that infects the central nervous system and can be transmitted to humans through saliva from bites or scratches. Rabies exists on every continent outside of Antarctica, and although it affects both domestic and wild animals, more than 99% of all rabies deaths result from bites from domestic dogs.

The rage is 100% deadly once clinical symptoms have appeared. However, the virus can be treated with timely post-exposure immunoglobulin injections and it is preventable in animals and humans with a vaccine that has been available for over 100 years. The routine administration of rabies vaccines to American dogs is why there have only been reports 127 human rabies cases in the United States from 1960 to 2018. About a quarter of rabies cases resulted from dog bites that occurred while visiting foreign countries.

The success of rabies vaccinations in rich countries like the United States is due to the high accessibility of vaccines and veterinary services. On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports 59,000 human deaths of rabies worldwide each year, with 50% of rabies deaths occurring in children under 15 and 95% of all rabies deaths occurring in Asia and Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies rabies as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that mainly affects disadvantaged communities where there is a lack of health care and veterinary services. In many countries, rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins are often unavailable or too expensive for people who need them. The average cost of lifesaving immunoglobulin treatment is $108, which is unaffordable for people who live in areas where the average daily income is less than $2.

The role of domestic dogs in rabies prevention programs

600 million is animal rights association that Alex Pacheco (co-founder of PETA) founded. The organization has estimated that there are up to 600 million stray dogs worldwide. Most stray animals live in countries where there are few resources available to manage stray animals humanely and effectively. Overpopulation of stray dogs is a health and safety risk to the people who live alongside them. Dog bites and attacks spread rabies while causing serious physical injury, especially to young children. In communities where access to health care is limited or none, a single dog bite or scratch can mean the equivalent of a death sentence.

Countries from Bali to Pakistan have particularly problematic stray dog ​​populations, leading authorities and citizens to often resort to culling, sometimes in the tens of thousands, to reduce populations and reduce the risk of injury and death. diseases. Ethics aside, the problem with animal slaughter is that it is a short-term solution to an ongoing problem. Cullings are not considered sustainable management by experts because dogs can travel from one area to another and the speed at which they can breed inevitably leads to a resurgence. In addition to vaccinations and animal birth control processes, including neutering and neutering, sustainable stray dog ​​management includes improving dog health and educating communities about diseases, care and canine behavior.

How Vets Beyond Borders Serves Rabies Outbreak Countries

Routine vaccinations and animal birth control procedures are essential to control stray dog ​​populations and prevent the spread of rabies. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have stated that “once 70% of dogs are vaccinated, rabies can be successfully controlled and human deaths can be prevented.

Vets Beyond Borders works with 26 partner organizations worldwide and serves 11 rabies epidemic countries providing animal birth control and rabies vaccination programs according to Colgan. The organization also provides veterinary clinical training for veterinarians, veterinary assistants and dog handlers who work with stray animals. Vets Beyond Borders also represents Australia as a member of Veterinarians Without Bordersan international organization that promotes healthy and sustainable relationships between humans and animals in poor rural communities according to Colgan.

Working towards a rage-free future

Preventing the spread of rabies is essential for the health, safety and security of communities around the world. Animal welfare organizations like Vets Beyond Borders help bridge the gap between the human and animal health sector while supporting the underserved and working to make rabies eradication part of an accessible future. .

– Jenny Rice
Photo: Flickr