27 September 2013

Children most likely to contract rabies

Children are the most at risk to contract rabies because they often play with rabid animals, says a report on the eve of World Rabies Day.

Children are at the highest risk of dog rabies because they often play with animals that have rabies and are less likely to report bites or scratches.

This is the view of Jaco Smit, a Sanofi Pasteur spokesperson, who said that between 30% and 60% of rabies victims of dog bites were children under the age of 15.

Worldwide Rabies Day will be commemorated on 28 September, giving people an opportunity to unite in rabies prevention.

High-risk areas

Sanofi recommended that travellers to high risk areas, where medical facilities were not readily accessible get pre-exposure to vaccination prior to departure.  It said children travelling to high-risk areas should also be vaccinated as they were the most at risk.

The pre-exposure series consists of three doses of rabies vaccine.

Immediate post exposure

Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and the rabies control group recommends travellers, on their way to rabies-endemic areas including Africa and Asia where there is a high population of stray dogs, get vaccinated.

The global alliance for rabies control said earlier an estimated 55 000 people died from rabies worldwide annually, which meant that approximately one person dies every ten minutes.

Rabies is nearly always fatal without immediate proper post exposure prophylaxis treatment.

The alliance said that pre-exposure vaccination should also be considered by others whose activities brought them into frequent contact with the rabies virus or potentially rabid animals, such as travellers exposed to outdoor activities (jogging, biking, camping, hiking), people doing community or missionary work in rural communities, as well as by game rangers, veterinarians and others working with animals.

Affected by rabies

Rabies occurs worldwide with the highest incidents in Africa, Asia and India. Thailand has an estimated 10 million stray dogs, with one in 10 dogs in Bangkok estimated to be infected with rabies.

The areas in South Africa most affected by rabies, according to the latest statistics that appeared in the communicable diseases communiqué, include the north-eastern areas of the Eastern Cape, the eastern and south-eastern areas of the Cape, eastern and south-eastern Mpumalanga, northern Limpopo and rural areas throughout KwaZulu-Natal.

Press release from Sanofi, as well as additional information by the global alliance for rabies control.

More at

Photo:  Dog being injected from Shutterstock


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