About rabies and things
Diseases transmitted from animals to humans are called “zoonoses”. These can be serious, but risks can be strongly reduced if you take the correct precautions.
To live safely with your dog, it is important that you understand the potential risks and carry out the necessary precautions. Diseases caused worms and skin parasites are considered in that section. To find out more follow the link.
RABIES - the disease in man
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. It is transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite. The virus travels to the brain along the nerves, so bites to the head and neck lead to a shorter incubation period.
Once symptoms develop, death is almost certainly inevitable – often following a prolonged and terrible period of suffering.
Where in the world does rabies occur?
Rabies virus occurs widely throughout the world. A wide range of mammals can act as a reservoir host. By far the majority of human deaths occur within Africa and Asia.
The annual human death toll is estimated at 23,700 in Africa and 31,500 in Asia (of which 19,000 is in India). About 98% of these deaths are the result of a bite from a rabid dog.
Can Rabies be prevented in humans?
YES! Rabies vaccination is safe and effective.
Appropriate wound treatment and post exposure therapy is also very effective, as long as it is given soon enough and in the correct manner.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published guidelines on what to do if you have been bitten by a suspected rabid dog (www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099).
Unfortunately, due to a combination of economic constraints, lack of public education and reduced availability of medicines not all people receive the appropriate post exposure therapy.
Thus there are about 55,000 unnecessary deaths annually!
Can rabies be eliminated?
Because of the wide range of reservoir species, it is probably not possible to totally eliminate rabies. However, vaccination of dogs using modern vaccines has been shown to be safe and effective.
Since 98% of human cases follow a dog bite, mass vaccination campaigns in dogs have dramatically reduced both dog and human rabies cases. Dog vaccination programmes have now become an essential element of the coordinated strategy to eliminate human rabies by the Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC).
Should my dog be vaccinated against Rabies?
In most countries in mainland Europe, rabies vaccination for dogs is compulsory.
Permanent identification and registration using a Pet Passport is also mandatory. However, if you live in a country that is rabies free (eg UK, Eire) it is not necessary to vaccinate your dog against rabies, unless you intend to travel using a Pet Passport.
The requirements for the Pet Passport vary according to the country you live in and where you intend to travel. For more information, follow the link s to the Pet Passport section.
Thus in most countries in mainland Europe, rabies vaccination is mandatory, and the frequency of booster vaccinations set by national legislation. If you are British but live outside the UK, even for part of the year, you should check with a local veterinarian about the specific national requirements.
Can I do anything to help eliminate Rabies in the world?
The Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC) was formed to reduce the burden of human rabies throughout the World. A regular newsletter gives information on the progress that is being made. World Rabies Day (29th September) is officially recognised as a day to raise awareness of this terrible disease and to give people worldwide the opportunity to do something positive to help.
Leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite and is transmitted by a bite from a sand fly. It is endemic in Middle East, the area around the Mediterranean, Africa, South America and USA. In these countries the prevalence in dogs is 20 – 40%, while in humans it is 1 –2 %.
The clinical signs in man are worse in patients that are immune-compromised. There is a chronic prolonged course in dogs. Treatment in dogs is often difficult with relapses. Leishmaniasis poses a risk to the health of your dog, especially if you travel to the Mediterranean. Find out more in the section disease risk of holiday travel .
Lymes disease is caused by bacteria transmitted by the sheep tick. Both man and dogs can be affected. The signs in man include a skin rash with fever, joint pain and headache. The condition may progress to chronic arthritis and inflammation of the nerves.
These diseases can be especially difficult to control in countries with a poor economy or where there is a large population of free-roaming dogs. Control of the dog population is essential, but it is important this is done using humane methods.