I just recently learned an incredible set of statistics via a speaker named Dr. Greg Takashima in a talk sponsored by Merck Animal Health. Worldwide, Ebola virus has been responsible for 13,000 deaths in the past decade. This is truly tragic, but while Ebola garners a great deal of media attention, there is a far more devastating and wide spread disease that is responsible for 60,000 human deaths per year, mostly children in developing countries: rabies. Not only is it troubling how under reported the world wide scourge of rabies is, but what is unacceptable is that this disease is nearly 100% preventable through timely vaccination.
By contrast, thankfully in the United States where rabies remains a serious health risk, due to strict states laws in rabies vaccination requirements for companion animals, in addition to strict quarantine protocols when rabies exposure is suspected, there are only an average of 3-5 human deaths from rabies per year. Unfortunately in much of the developing world in places like Africa, governments lack the veterinarians and resources necessary to implement wide spread education and vaccination programs. As a result, children come in contact with village dogs that become infected with rabies and themselves become infected with this deadly disease.
Merck Animal Health, one of the biggest innovators and producers of canine and feline vaccines, have responded to this crisis in a very powerful way. In addition to placing veterinarian and veterinary technician teams on the ground around the world in developing nations to educate about the threat of rabies and implement rabies vaccine programs, for every dose of rabies vaccine a veterinarian that uses their rabies vaccine line administers, they donate a dose of rabies vaccines to their world rabies prevention initiative.
As a veterinarian, this is very powerful. Every time I do my due diligence in keeping a canine patient and his family safe when I update a rabies vaccine, I am also ensuring that a dog across the world will also receive a vaccine and bring a village one step closer to keeping their children safe from this very preventable disease.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality throughout a number of subjects and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.