Worldwide Veterinary Services (WVS) has announced that over two million dogs have now been vaccinated against rabies globally as part of their Mission Rabies project.
WVS, which is a subsidiary of Dogs Trust, revealed the milestone for World Rabies Day, which is due to be marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 28 September. World Rabies Day is held annually to raise awareness of the infectious disease, and promote the fight against it.
Once symptomatic, the disease is deadly and untreatable, resulting in the death of a child every nine minutes. It also costs the global economy $8.6bn annually.
The disease is mainly transmitted from dogs, which are responsible for up to 99 per cent of all rabies transmissions to humans.
The vaccination of dogs against rabies is considered the most effective strategy of eliminating the disease, stopping the transmission at its source. It also prevents millions of dogs each year being indiscriminately and inhumanely killed out of fear of the disease.
WVS, as well as the Mission Rabies project, became part of Dogs Trust in May 2023, with the view of advancing the fight against rabies. Together they are operating several initiatives to eliminate human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies, as well as improving animal welfare worldwide.
This included the largest ever rabies vaccination drive in Cambodia, which resulted in more than 75,000 dogs being vaccinated over ten days in the Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.
The group are now aiming to vaccinate 70 per cent of the canine population in endemic countries, which is the coverage needed to eliminate the disease
Luke Gamble, founder and chief executive of WVS, said: “Our pledge is to half the number of human rabies deaths in the next five years and protect hundreds of thousands of dogs.
“We can do this as part of Dogs Trust. The key to eliminating rabies is breaking the cycle of transmission by vaccinating 70 per cent of the dogs in any given project site.”
Karen Reed, executive director of Dogs Trust Worldwide said: “We know that the most effective way to end deaths by rabies is through mass vaccination of dogs.
“We look forward to continuing our important work alongside WVS and with our other partners.
“We hope that one day we can eliminate rabies, saving countless human and canine lives”.
Image © Dogs Trust