3 september 2007

World Rabies Day - 8 September 2007

The first World Rabies Day, launched on the initiative of the Alliance for Rabies Control, will be 8 September 2007, and will occur every year from now on, with the aim of increasing general awareness towards this present-day tragedy. The Institut Pasteur, which historically has been engaged in the fight against rabies, where the National Reference Centre for Rabies is located, and where research against this neglected disease is going o

The Alliance for Rabies Control reminds us that "rabies is the most inevitably fatal disease and yet one of the easiest to prevent. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 55,000 people die of rabies every year. These figures are underestimated, since rabies is very often not a scheduled disease where the majority of deaths occur. More than 90% of human rabies cases occur in Asia and Africa. Thirty to fifty percent of deaths occur among children under 15 years old and result from bites from infected dogs. All these deaths could be prevented by quickly and carefully cleaning the wounds, and administering a post-exposure treatment (vaccines and immunoglobulins) according to the WHO’s recommendations. Many exposures could be avoided by appropriate and coordinated vaccination programmes for canine populations. This approach should lead to local elimination of canine virus strains, especially if it is joined with a control of canine populations and with new approaches concerning hard-to-reach animals. When rabies is eliminated from its principal reservoirs, the number of human exposures decreases rapidly. Although it is relatively easy to prevent in dogs and humans, rabies is not a priority in the majority of the world’s regions where canine rabies is present."

While this worldwide day for awareness of the rabies problem specially targets the countries where the disease is endemic, it must be remembered that in France thousands of rabies vaccine treatments take place every year, that the risk exists for travellers, and that the disease is sporadically imported by animals introduced illegally into the territory.

This file contains an update on rabies in France, a general information sheet on rabies, a summary of current research at the Institut Pasteur, and a short history on Louis Pasteur and rabies vaccination.

* The World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and other national and international scientific institutions, such as the Veterinary Laboratory Agencies in the United Kingdom and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Germany, as well as private companies have also joined in World Rabies Day.

Press contact

Press contact: Nadine Peyrolo or Corinne Jamma
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 61 33 41