Rabies is an example of a zoonotic disease, ie a disease that is spread from animals to humans. It is prevalent in over 150 countries globally and is estimated to cause tens of thousands of deaths each year, mostly in Africa and Asia.1 Forty percent of people who are bitten by suspected infected animals are children under the age of 15, and more than 15 million people receive treatment after a bite annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this prevents hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths each year.1
1 What is rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that is widely prevalent in the saliva of warm-blooded mammals. Around 99% of human cases and 95% of deaths are associated with domestic dogs, but other mammals including cats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, monkeys and bats have been implicated.1
2 How do you get rabies?
Infection usually occurs following a deep bite or scratch from an infected animal; however, it is possible to become infected with exposure to infected saliva via mucus membranes. There have been reports of organ donation recipients developing rabies after corneal transplantation or other transplanted tissue.2