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article imageCall for mass rabies vaccination

By Tim Sandle     Jul 5, 2015 in Health
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control has called for a mass vaccination of dogs in order "to make rabies history." Some 60,000 people die each year from the viral disease.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain. The first wave of symptoms include tingling at the site of infection and fever. This is then followed by violent activity and extreme excitement, often accompanied by a fear of water. The final phase is confusion and a loss of consciousness. This final phase leads, almost inevitably, to death.
With the final phase there are two manifestations: furious rabies, which is characterized by increasingly odd and hyperactive behavior, separated by periods of relative calm; and dumb rabies (or paralytic rabies), which is characterized by muscle weakness, loss of sensation and paralysis.
Rabies is found throughout the world (except for Antarctica), with the majority of cases occurring in Asia and Africa. Of the 60,000 cases per year, some 25,000 affect children under 15 years of age. This week, Curtis Plumb, a British safari guide, was bitten by a leopard exhibiting strange behavior, thought to be due to rabies.
The call for mass vaccination has come from Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director of the global animal medicines association Health for Animals. Sarvaas has told the BBC: "I don't know if there's a disease which is so easily preventable for so little money that affects so many people." According to Sarvaas the cost of a vaccination for twenty animals is $8.
This position is supported by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Its spokesperson Professor Louis Nel, also told the BBC: "We can make rabies history if international institutions invested more in mass canine vaccinations."
In related news, researchers have discovered how rabies kills. With this mechanism, saliva transmitted from the bite of a rabid animal enters the victim’s muscle tissue. To kill, however, the rabies virus must reach the brain.
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