World Rabies Day 2020
Rabies is a notifiable disease in Bhutan and it commonly occurs in the southern districts and sometimes in the eastern districts sharing a border with Indian states; however, sporadic cases due to incursion from border areas have been reported in the interior parts of the country in the past. Although control of cross-border rabies transmission is a challenge, the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies is feasible in the country. Through the implementation of various rabies prevention and control measures in the country such as mass dog vaccination campaigns, awareness education, post-exposure prophylaxis, regular disease surveillance, etc.; over the past 5 years, there has been a decline in the total number of rabies outbreaks and cases in livestock species, and achieved a drastic reduction in human rabies cases; the last case being recorded in 2016. To raise awareness on rabies and its prevention and help the world come together to fight this dreadful and neglected disease, September 28 is being observed as World Rabies Day since 2007. It is the first and only global advocacy, education, and awareness campaign for rabies. The day is an opportunity to celebrate successes so far, build support for existing challenges, and increase awareness of rabies prevention in at-risk communities. The theme for World Rabies Day 2020 is “End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate”. The theme calls for multi-sectoral collaboration involving various stakeholders: dog owners, animal health professionals and local governments (to keep dogs vaccinated); to human health professionals and educators (to ensure that post-exposure vaccinations are sought by and provided for people in need); to national governments (to commit to the 2030 goal of eliminating rabies deaths). The theme highlights the essential role of mass canine vaccination in rabies elimination, the need for human vaccination to save lives in case of potential exposure to rabies, and the importance of pre-exposure vaccination for high-risk individuals.