Rabies in Vietnam:

The importance of vaccinating pets and banning dog and cat meat trade

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), rabies still kills around 100 people in Vietnam each year. In the first 8 months of 2023, 61 deaths were recorded due to rabies, which represents an increase compared to 2022. It should be noted that the actual number is likely to be higher, as rabies is not always correctly diagnosed or reported. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease affecting the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. It spreads to people and animals via saliva, through bites, scratches, or direct contact (e.g., licking of open wounds). In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans.

Rabies in cats and dogs most frequently comes from exposure to infected stray or wild animals. Unfortunately, the only way to “test” for rabies in animals requires the death of the animal, and once the symptoms of rabies appear, the virus is fatal.

In humans, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the only emergency response that prevents the virus from entering the central nervous system, which would invariably result in death. However, many of the people affected by rabies are faced with vaccine shortages or cost prohibitive prices for treatment.

Rabies in Vietnam

Every year in Vietnam, about 400,000 people need a rabies vaccine after being bitten by dogs or cats. This is causing a great economic loss with an estimated cost of more than 300 billion VND per year. The largest portion of this cost is attributable to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). One course of PEP costs more than 100 times the price of a dog vaccine. Studies have shown that a rabies vaccination coverage in animals of 70% is needed to protect people in the community. In 2022, it was estimated that only 40% of dogs across Vietnam were vaccinated. On top of the poor vaccination coverage, the elimination of rabies in Vietnam is being hindered by the continuation of dog meat trade activities. Studies have shown that there was a potential risk of rabies transmission to humans through dog slaughtering activities in Vietnam.

Pet vaccination: protect your pets and your community

By vaccinating pets, not only are we protecting our furry friends from a horrible disease, but we also protect the community.

Paws for Compassion, in collaboration with its partners, consistently offers free rabies vaccinations to the pets of our community. This year, by the end of September, we had vaccinated 130 animals against rabies. To celebrate World Rabies Day (September 28th), we hosted our annual Shots for Shots fundraiser and vaccinated an additional 80 pets in our community against rabies.

Thanks to you, our incredible donors, partners, supporters, and volunteers, we can continue to raise awareness and funds for this cause. Together, we can make a difference.

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