UK woman suffering from rabies
Today the British media is full of the story of a British woman currently in hospital in South London, suffering from rabies.
She was bitten by a puppy nine weeks ago during a trip to India. When she first presented at her doctors with symptoms of encephalitis, she was sent home. Given that the symptoms during the early stages of the clinical onset of rabies are non-specific and how unusual the disease is in the UK, the mistake is understandable. Sadly, rabies is almost always fatal with little chance of survival after clinical symptoms are evident.
This tragic case shows the importance of traveller information about rabies. People need to be aware of the current situation of rabies in the country they intend to visit and understand how to prevent rabies if they are exposed to an animal that may be infected with the disease during their travel.
This case also illustrates the hopeless situation faced by millions of the world’s poorest people every year living at daily risk of exposure to rabies. This disease is an undiscriminating killer.
Once somebody has been exposed to rabies (for example, by being bitten by an infected dog), they should receive post-exposure prophylaxis that, if administered soon enough, may stop the onset of the disease. Presently in many rural areas there is limited access to rabies prevention biologicals and, where they are available, they often cost the equivalent of many months income. Unfortunately many people living in resource-poor regions simply cannot access the medical attention and biologicals that could save their lives.
We could avoid this trauma and suffering altogether by preventing human rabies at the greatest source of infection, the unvaccinated dog populations in Africa and Asia. By vaccinating dogs against rabies (because dog populations cause 99% of all global human cases), we can dramatically reduce human rabies throughout the world.
This is the work that GARC does: We help communities in resource poor areas implement measures to prevent rabies in dogs, thus stopping the disease from infecting people. Our work helps protect the people and who visit our project areas.
Please help us, if you can.