If you saw a dog with rabies, would you be able to recognise it? If you were suspicious, would you know what to do? World Rabies Day, on 28 September, is a reminder for all Australians to do their part to keep Australia rabies-free.
Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, said every year more than 60,000 people worldwide die from rabies and 99 per cent of these cases are caused by the bite of a rabies-infected dog.
“That’s one person every 9 minutes dying from a disease that could be prevented by vaccinating the dog population in countries with rabies,” Dr Schipp said.
“The theme this year, ‘Rabies: Share the message. Save a life’, highlights the importance of education and awareness to prevent rabies and supports the global aim to end human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030.
“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has strict biosecurity requirements for people bringing animals, including dogs, into Australia and undertakes proactive work to keep rabies out.
“If rabies became established in Australia, the toll on human and animal health would be huge and lead to significant response and recovery costs.
“We are doing our part here to improve early preparedness, detection, and response options for infectious diseases such as rabies.
“This includes collaborating with counterpart agencies in Indonesia, Timor–Leste and PNG, to support and conduct activities aimed at improving local capacity to detect, monitor, control and mitigate risk pathways for infectious diseases, including rabies.
“We also regularly engage with Indigenous communities in Northern Australia, where dogs, including wild dogs are prevalent to improve infectious diseases management.
“It’s no fluke that Australia is one of the few countries able to claim freedom from rabies.
“Today I am also proud to be representing the World Organisation for Animal Health at a scientific symposium in Germany to mark the 10th anniversary of Western and Central Europe being recognised as rabies-free.
“I ask all Australians to continue to play their role in keeping the nation free of rabies.
“If you are bitten by an animal overseas make sure you seek medical attention immediately.”
Further information can be found on the OIE’s Rabies portal.