Team thinks that by vaccinating 70 percent of the world's dogs, rabies in humans will disappear
An international team of veterinarians has a plan for eradicating rabies in humans, but in order for it to be successful, close to 70 percent of the world's dog population has to be vaccinated.
Rabies is a big problem in areas of Asia and Africa, NPR reports, with more than 69,000 people — many of them children — dying from it every year. Because there are so many dogs in the world, it might seem unfeasible to vaccinate 70 percent. Dr. Felix Lankester, director of the Serengeti Health Initiative that is trying to end infectious diseases in Tanzania, thinks it's possible.
For five years, Lankester's team has driven to 185 communities around the Serengeti National Park to set up makeshift rabies clinics. The team tries to attract kids, since "here, the dogs are owned by children," he said. Usually, they give 1,000 vaccines by the end of the day, and since starting the initiative, the number of rabies fatalities in northeastern Tanzania has dropped from 50 each year to almost zero.
The World Health Organization wants to see rabies in humans eliminated in Latin America by 2015, and in Asia and Africa by 2020. One huge hurdle is the price; each vaccine costs $3, including transportation and vet costs. That's a lot for poor areas, but still much less than the price of treating rabies — $40 in Africa, and $49 in Asia.