Health Surveillance and Disease Management / Veterinary Public Health / Rabies
Evaluation Methodology: Elimination of Human and Dog Rabies in Latin America
Results of the Study: Elimination of Dog-Transmitted Human Rabies in Latin America: Situation Analysis
Methodology used in the study: Download CD (in Spanish; contains the following sections plus supplementary documents; titles translated for user orientation)
Plan of Action for Rabies Prevention and Control in the Americas, 2005–2009 (in Spanish)
Epidemiological Situation of Rabies in Latin America in 2004, PAHO Epidemiological Bulletin, Vol 26, No. 1, March 2005)
At the beginning of the 1980s the countries of the Americas, with PAHO support, made a commitment to eliminate human rabies transmitted by dogs. The goal established by PAHO and approved through a referendum by the countries of the Region, was the elimination of human rabies. This disease was initially transmitted by dogs in major metropolitan areas and had subsequently spread throughout the Region by 2005. One of PAHO's mandates and one of the priorities of the Veterinary Public Health Unit (HDM/VP) is to support the countries in the elimination of human and canine rabies.
The countries, with support from PAHO, are making major efforts to reach this goal and have been quite successful. It should be noted that in the last 20 years, the number of cases of human rabies has declined considerably in the Region. The number of cases fell from 355 in 1982 to 30 in 2003, which represents a 91% reduction in deaths from this disease. In recent years, dogs were the source of infection in 70% of all reported cases. Rabies in dogs follows the same downward trend. In the last 20 years, it fell by 93%, such that in 2003 only 445 cases were reported throughout the Region.
This significant reduction was possible thanks to joint activities carried out by the national governments of the Region, with support from PAHO. The countries have concentrated their efforts on strengthening national programs to implement traditional control measures. These actions are usually to
In Latin America, every year nearly 42 million dogs are vaccinated and approximately 1 million people are served due to their risk of contracting the disease, of which 30% receive post-exposure treatment. More than 100 laboratories are integrated into the network diagnosing rabies.
Activities also include a set of measures:
The Pan American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Center (PANAFTOSA) maintains an Epidemiological Surveillance System for Rabies (Sistema de Vigilancia Epidemiológica para Rabia / SIRVERA) that it started in the 1970s. These data have been fundamentally important for analyzing the epidemiological situation of rabies in the Region and for defining control strategies. Furthermore, this information is complemented by the biannual survey for the Meeting of National Rabies Programs Directors (Reunión de Directores de Programas Nacionales de Rabia / REDIPRA). The World Health Organization (WHO) also maintains an information system for rabies (RABNET). These different information bases allow for a good general analysis of rabies in the Region and at the country level.
The control measures for rabies elimination are known to all and the strategies adopted have proved to be efficient as well as accessible. Good-quality vaccines are currently available, both for human and animal consumption, and there are diagnosic tests of reasonable cost. Rabies control should be a priority, since with the resources currently available, there can be no excuse for allowing people to die from rabies, at least from dogs.