Govt will Give Free Rabies Shots to Prevent Fatal Dog Bites

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Photo Credit: @aleksandarlittlewolf

In an effort to support animal health and welfare, The Ministry of Health and its development partners will distribute 30,000 free doses of Rabies vaccines across the country. 

This initiative would be carried out on September 28, which is World Rabies Day and Lao citizens would be encouraged to bring their pets to get vaccinated. This is part of the government’s efforts to prevent human deaths caused by Rabies which is spread primarily by dogs.

The virus can be transmitted through saliva when bit or scratched by a dog, and butchering the animal can also lead to its spread. This is important to note considering that the dog meat trade is rampant in spite of legal measures that are in place to prevent it. An average of 8,528 dog bites are also reported annually in Laos and this highlights the importance of rabies surveillance and control.

Health officials are encouraging everyone to utilize the free vaccine and protect themselves and their pets from a fatal disease as dogs make up for 99% of Rabies transmission to humans.

Speaking at a press conference about World Rabies Day 2022, Deputy Minister of Health Dr Phayvanh Keopaseuth said that this day was established to encourage people to play a greater role in preventing and controlling the disease, “It shines a spotlight on the responsibility of animal owners around the feeding and health care of their pets, including the need for vaccinations.”

FAO Representative in Laos, Mr. Nasar Hayat added, “Stopping transmission is feasible through the vaccination of dogs and the prevention of dog bites. Vaccinating dogs remains the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people.

“Education on dog behavior and bite prevention for both children and adults is an essential extension of rabies vaccination programs and can decrease both the incidence of human rabies and the financial burden of treating dog bites.”

Dr. Phayvanh also pointed out how many countries have good rabies prevention plans to reduce the number of rabies cases and Laos should also follow suit and implement similar measures. Some countries have been able to wipe out the virus, such as the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and some European countries, he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, 59,000 people lose their lives to Rabies every year and a majority of these deaths occur among poor communities in rural areas.

Interested parties may contact 020 9999 7139 for further information on the free vaccination drive.