Every year, an estimated 59 000 people worldwide die of one of the oldest diseases known to man: rabies. Rabies is caused by infection from a lyssavirus. The disease is named after Lyssa, the Greek spirit of madness, frenzy, and rage, vividly evoking the horror of a rabid death.
Rabies is spread via bites and scratches from infected animals. Dogs are responsible for 99% of human cases. Clinically, rabies is characterized by loss of consciousness, hyperactivity, hallucinations, and hydrophobia/fear of water (furious rabies), or paralysis and coma (paralytic rabies), progressing rapidly and inevitably death.
Rabies is preventable
Although fatal once clinical signs appear, rabies is preventable through three proven, effective interventions.
- Awareness; includes an understanding of how to prevent rabies in animals by vaccinating dogs, and what to do in case of a dog bite, which is washing the bite wound with soap and water or methylated spirit for at least 15 minutes. When you suspect a dog with rabies or if you need more information about rabies, call the Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA) TNM Toll-Free number 172.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP); consists of a series of rabies vaccines and, in some cases, rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), administered after suspected exposure to rabies. PEP for rabies is administered by qualified medical personnel. Appropriate wound management and prompt access to quality-assured PEP is almost 100% effective in preventing human rabies deaths.
- Mass dog vaccination; is the proven, cost-effective way to save human lives by stopping transmission of rabies at its source. Disease models and real-world experience show that sustained vaccination coverage of 70% of dog populations is sufficient to stop transmission of the disease between dogs, and from dogs to humans. Eliminating rabies in dogs is therefore key to sustainably prevent rabies disease in humans.
Rabies affects the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Most rabies cases occur in Africa and Asia. Approximately 80% of human cases occur in rural areas, and over 40% of rabies deaths occur in children aged under 15 years. People continue to die of rabies because it is neglected; due to lack of awareness of the disease; because the disease remains uncontrolled in dogs and because people lack access to basic medical care, following an exposure.
Staying safe from rabies diseases.
Always keep dogs that are vaccinated against rabies. Avoid buying dogs from roadside vendors; these animals are not vaccinated against rabies. For only MK6,000 you can adopt a dog that has been vaccinated against rabies, and has also been checked by a vet. For more information call 0995027815 or visit www.lilongwespca.org.