Rabies, a virus present in animals that spreads onto humans via “the bite of a rabid animal,” is a highly preventable, but extremely deadly disease that claims around 59,000 lives annually. From this number, rabies in India makes up 36% of the total rabies deaths in the world, making India a hotspot for this fatal condition.
On the bright side, there is one charity that aims to eradicate rabies in India: Mission Rabies. It works tirelessly to stop preventable deaths and provide the most vulnerable rural communities with safety from this disease.
Mass Vaccination Programs for Dogs
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 99% of human rabies cases come from domestic or stray dogs. This is why Mission Rabies makes canine vaccination one of its top priorities. With its operations spanning three main regions: Goa, Ranchi and the city of Bengaluru, it aims to vaccinate the canine populations present among communities.
The organization does this with domestic pets through home visits, or with wild populations by capturing dogs and releasing them after vaccination.
Through this initiative, more than 170,000 dogs received vaccinations against rabies nationally in 2021 alone, reducing the chances of human infection dramatically. Since 2013, there have been 4 million doses of the vaccine provided in Goa, the largest long-term initiative involving rabies prevention in India.
In order to maintain the reduction of rabies in India, there is a need for surveillance of canine populations and public cases to be at the forefront. Mission Rabies implements this by doing routine checks of dogs in the areas it operates while vaccinating new individuals too.
The organization also established one of India’s two rabies hotlines, which members of the public with concerns can call if they see a dog they believe to be showing symptoms. Being able to identify infected individuals quickly can help in the containment of disease spread, thereby saving lives.
The All-Terrain Clinic (ATC)
With the most prevalent hotspots of rabies in India being in remote rural areas, there is often a lack of veterinary care available close by. Mission Rabies has solved this by introducing its mobile surgery, which can travel to even the most remote areas. This means it can provide much-needed and free veterinary treatments to high-risk dogs.
The team working aboard the ATC also strives to educate the public on rabies as a disease and the welfare of dogs around them. Through continuous efforts, the public can play a part in ensuring the prevention of rabies cases and keeping community members safe.
Education to the Masses
Although vaccination programs could be the best way to eradicate rabies in India, increasing awareness of this deadly illness and its preventable nature appears to be a step in the right direction. Therefore, Mission Rabies carries out an education program through schools.
The charity works to educate children on the causes, symptoms and threats of rabies, highlighting best prevention practices. It also teaches life-saving first aid in case of infection. This knowledge aids communities in understanding what to do upon encountering exposed animals while encouraging more people to vaccinate their pets.
In the fight against rabies in India, Mission Rabies is making significant strides through its mass vaccination programs for dogs, surveillance efforts and mobile veterinary clinics. The organization’s dedication to educating the public, particularly through school programs, helps raise awareness about the disease and its prevention. By combining these initiatives, Mission Rabies is working toward eradicating rabies in India and providing safety to vulnerable communities, offering hope for a future free from this deadly disease.
– Annabel Kartal-Allen