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Vaccination of dogs is the way to prevent human rabies

China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-19 07:34

AN 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL in Southwest China's Chongqing died of rabies on Dec 8. She was bitten by an infected dog in May, but her family did not realize that the dog had the disease. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

Had the girl received the rabies vaccination immediately after being bitten, she would have survived.

Her death shows the lack of attention to zoonotic diseases, diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals, on the part of public health authorities. Cattle and pets should receive injections in order to prevent several kinds of common zoonosis, such as rabies, from being transmitted,

In many rural communities post-infection treatment is rare, although the situation is better in urban areas where people receive the rabies vaccine upon being bitten by a dog, but still urban dogs are not given rabies vaccine injections as a preventative measure. According to World Trade Organization data, as long as 70 percent of dogs of a region receive such injections, rabies will be eliminated in that region. About 50 countries and regions have finished the job and rabies has disappeared in these areas.

For the past 10 years, the number of deaths caused by rabies has been over 2,000 in China, second only to the number in India. Had China taken the popular practice of mandatory rabies vaccinations for dogs, many of those lives would have been saved every year.

The death of the girl in Chongqing should remind domestic health authorities of the importance of vaccinating dogs. Besides, people in some rural regions do not receive the rabies vaccine if bitten by a dog because the injection costs 200 to 300 yuan ($43), which is rather expensive compared with their incomes. The State needs to offer subsidies if necessary.

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