Alberta Veterinary Medical Association Supports World Rabies Day


Monday September 28, 2009 will mark the third annual World Rabies Day.  The 2007 & 2008 celebrations were huge successes and were supported in over 70 countries worldwide with nearly 400,000 individual participants.



The origin of World Rabies Day can be traced back to 2006 when a group of researchers formed the global Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC).  They were joined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Together they began inviting partners to join them in bringing the World Rabies Day initiative to fruition.

Education, public awareness, rabies prevention and elimination are just a few of the goals of World Rabies Day.  Another goal of World Rabies Day is to increase participation for this initiative on a global scale.  The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (AB.VMA) has adopted a theme of Grounded in Alberta for the 2009 year and members are encouraged to promote World Rabies Day in their Alberta practices and communities.

Fifty five thousand people die annually from rabies on a world wide basis.  The majority of those are children and the main contact is dogs.

The spread of rabies continues to be highest overseas, particularly in Africa and Asia however there are still thousands of cases reported each year in North America.  The veterinary community in Alberta diligently educates clients on rabies and provides the proper medical care and vaccinations required in order to prevent and reduce the disease even further.

The key factor in the reduction of rabies is increasing the public’s awareness about the disease.  The following are some basic information points about rabies.

Rabies is a deadly disease that is caused by a virus most commonly spread through the saliva of an infected mammal.  It is often passed through animal bites.
Bats are a significant source of rabies exposure in North America, and the most significant source in Alberta.
All mammals can contract Rabies, including livestock.
Rabies is 100% preventable in humans!
Rabies strikes children at a higher rate (estimates are 100 kids per day in Africa and Asia contract rabies).  This is likely due to children’s willingness to handle animals, including strange or wild animals.
Early treatment once exposed is crucial.  Once the outward signs of the disease appear, rabies is nearly always fatal.
Prompt treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop rabies infection and/or prevent the disease.
Recognize the signs of rabies in animals.  Fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, trouble swallowing staggering and seizures and sudden changes in behaviour.
If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least 5 minutes and then immediately contact your physician.  Make sure the bite is reported.  Children should tell an adult when they have been bitten.
Reduce a pet’s risk of being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free. In addition spaying and neutering pets may decrease undesirable behaviour such as the desire to roam.
Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies. Owners may want to consider also vaccinating valuable livestock and horses.  Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.
Report animal bites to your local health department and to animal control.
If your pet is bitten by another animal, consult your veterinarian immediately.
A number of excellent resource materials are available on the World Rabies Site at