PULLMAN, Wash. – More than 99 percent of people who get rabies are infected after the bite of an unvaccinated dog. Washington State University is working to eliminate rabies, in part by developing a reliable vaccine bank and improved distribution.
Rabies is preventable, yet it kills nearly 60,000 people worldwide every year; half of them are children.
“Rabies is the deadliest disease that can be transmitted from animals to people and is, in fact, the most deadly infectious disease known to man with a case fatality rate of near 100 percent,” said Guy Palmer, a WSU Regents Professor of Pathology and the Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair and Senior Director of Global Health.
“Monday, Sept. 28, is World Rabies Day,” he said. “But more importantly it is recognition that among disease experts worldwide, we now recognize that a single global push to vaccinate and continue vaccinating as many dogs as possible will eliminate rabies among people.
Partners in Africa
“We know how to do this thanks to our work through WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and the work of our global partners,” said Palmer, who is founding director of the school.
“Logistically, we can get vaccines to the most remote parts of the world,” he said. “We can set up and provide rabies vaccination clinics. And we know the clinics are extremely popular among people who face this risk daily. Eliminating rabies in people globally is now completely attainable in our lifetime.”
Partners in the U.S.
Through the Allen School’s Eliminate Rabies project (http://eliminaterabies.wsu.edu/), partners are aligning with the effort because they understand the global impact of rabies and the extraordinary opportunity available to eliminate the disease in people.
“The doctors and staff at Seattle’s Lien Animal Clinic are excited to partner with the Allen School at Washington State University on the worldwide elimination of rabies,” said Timothy Kraabel and Elizabeth Fritzler. “Rabies is still a very real threat to human and animal health in some parts of the world. Its elimination is an attainable goal if we all work together.”
“We are delighted by the engagement of Drs. Kraabel and Fritzler and their staff, their leadership is essential to meeting our goal of eliminating human rabies globally,” said Palmer. “Through their leadership and that of other veterinary clinics here in the northwest, we are able to bring this message out to a broader community. One needn’t be a veterinarian or a disease expert because providing funding for vaccine, distribution, vaccination and human resources to make this happen will drive our success.”
About the Eliminate Rabies project
The Allen School is working to eliminate rabies with the goal of no human deaths by 2030. It has set an initial goal to raise $10 million to extend its reach to other parts of Africa and Asia. Funds will be used to develop a reliable vaccine bank and improved distribution. The school also will conduct research to learn how to best work between countries where border regions are so critical.
Ten dollars will vaccinate a child’s dog from rabies and distemper, another major cause of mortality in young dogs. A gift of any amount will move the effort closer to realizing a world where no child dies from canine rabies.
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