September 28th is an opportunity for worldwide efforts to prevent the occurrence of rabies. Known as World Rabies Day, September 28th is the day people take part in local, regional and national events, focused on increasing awareness of rabies, as well as how best to prevent rabies from occurring.
Every year, more than 55,000 people die from rabies, roughly one person every ten minutes. It is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous system tissue from a rabid animal. It is nearly always fatal without proper post-exposure treatment (also known as PEP).
The good news is that rabies is 100% preventable. In most cases, preventing rabies is as simple as ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, avoiding contact with wild animals, and educating those at risk.
Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. All animals should be vaccinated against rabies, when possible. Additionally, pets should not be allowed to roam freely, which would reduce the risk of infection. If an animal bite occurs, the following measures should be taken:
- Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least 5 minutes.
- Contact your physician immediately.
- Report the bite to the local health department. If necessary, you will be assessed for rabies post exposure prophylaxis.
- Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop rabies infection and prevent the disease.