28 September 2016, World Rabies Day: Educate, Vaccinate, Eliminate

September 28th is World Rabies Day. World Rabies Day is celebrated annually to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating this horrifying disease. 28 September also marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine.

This year, the theme is ‘Educate, Vaccinate, Eliminate’ and highlights the two crucial actions communities can take to prevent rabies. It also reflects the global target to eliminate all human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

Key Messages:

Rabies is a vaccine preventable infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical signs.

In up to 99% of human rabies deaths, the rabies virus is transmitted by domestic dogs.

Rabies affects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.

Rabies is present on all continents with the exception of Antarctica, but more than 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa.

Roughly 36% of the world’s rabies deaths occur in India each year, most of those when children come into contact with infected dogs.

Rabies is a neglected disease of poor and vulnerable populations whose deaths are rarely reported and where human vaccines and immunoglobulin are not readily available or accessible.

It occurs mainly in remote rural communities where children between the age of 5–14 years are frequent victims.

40% of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.

Rabies elimination is feasible by vaccinating dogs. 

Immediate wound cleansing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal can be life-saving. 


Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.


Useful Links:

Link to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control World Rabies Day web page:


Link to the WHO media release regarding World Rabies Day 2016:


Link to WHO’s fact sheet on Rabies (updated March 2016):


Link to WHO ‘Facts about rabies’ poster:


Link to WHO Bulletin article ‘India’s ongoing war against Rabies’:


Link to WHO’s guide to post-exposure prophylaxis:


Link to WHO’s page ‘What is Rabies?’:


Link to WHO’s page on Animal rabies:


Link to WHO’s page on Human rabies:


Link to WHO’s page on Rabies symptoms:


Link to WHO’s page on Rabies diagnosis:


Link to WHO’s page on Rabies treatment:


Link to WHO’s page on Rabies prevention:


Link to WHO’s page on Rabies control and elimination strategies:


Link to ‘Global framework for elimination of dog-mediated human rabies’ poster:


Link to WHO’s page containing Information resources on rabies:


Link to WHO’s document ‘Frequently Asked Questions on Rabies’:


Resources for children

Link to WHO’s ‘Five tips to prevent dog bites’ poster:


Link to WHO’s ‘Five tips to prevent dog bites’ guide for teachers:


Link to WHO’s ‘Five tips to prevent dog bites’ flash cards:


Link to WHO’s booklet ‘Friends don’t bite’:


Link to WHO’s ‘Want a Friend, Be a Friend’ Guide to pet care and bite prevention:




Links to GIFs:



dog body language


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