Update on elimination of human deaths from dog-mediated rabies


The most recent estimate of the global number of deaths from dog-mediated rabies is 59 000 per year.1 Rabies is associated with a 99.9% fatality rate and severe trauma in families in which a rabies death occurs, and remains a major public health concern in most of Africa and Asia and some parts of South America. In the Americas, dog-mediated rabies is still a public health issue in specific regions in some countries.2 Robust data on rabies are lacking for many countries. The information available to WHO is presented on Map 1.

Ending human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030 (“Zero by 30”) is the goal of a global strategy agreed in 2015 by a cross-sectoral partnership composed of WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.3 In 2020, as partnerships are vital to making progress towards Zero by 30, United Against Rabies (UAR) was launched as a collaborative forum for public and private sector organizations, rabies experts, development partners and civil society to work to improve rabies control.4

The Zero by 30 strategy is based on a One Health approach that integrates human health, animal health and the environment,5 indicating the importance of action on several fronts, including ensuring timely access to life-saving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of people exposed to suspected rabid animals, vaccinating dogs to stop the disease at its source and increasing community awareness about preventing bites and scratches and the risk of rabies. Safe, effective human and dog vaccines and understanding of disease transmission dynamics are available and, as the experience of countries that are now rabies-free shows,6 the expected results are achieved when the measures are applied appropriately.