World Rabies Day is today, September 8, 2007. This is an international event that launches global efforts to eliminate rabies.
The US Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday that the canine rabies virus has been eliminated from the United States.
“The elimination of canine rabies in the United States represents one of the major public health success stories in the last 50 years,” said Charles Rupprecht, chief of the CDC Rabies Program.
Dogs may still become infected with rabies from raccoons, skunks, bats or other wildlife, but they will not be infected with canine rabies from another dog. Because of the risk of getting a different rabies virus from other animals, health officials still recommend that pet owners continue to have their pets vaccinated against rabies.
Officials said the elimination of the canine rabies virus in the US was achieved through mandatory dog vaccination and licensing, better public health education about rabies, and stray dog control. The strain most specific to dogs has not been seen in the United States since 2004.
Rupprecht added that there is still much work to be done with rabies globally. Rabies kills at least 55,000 humans around the world each year, and the major cause is the canine rabies virus.
“We remain optimistic that this official declaration of canine-rabies free status in the United States could be replicated throughout the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere,” Rupprecht said.
Canine rabies is still common in many countries, including much of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, and the Philippines.
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