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Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. Rabies elimination is feasible by vaccinating dogs.
Infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa. 40% of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age. Immediate wound cleansing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal can be life-saving. Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.
The same safe and effective vaccines can be used for pre-exposure immunization. This is recommended for travellers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking as well as for long-term travellers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure to dog bites.
Pre-exposure immunization is also recommended for people in certain high-risk occupations such as laboratory workers dealing with live rabies virus and other rabies-related viruses (lyssaviruses), and people involved in any activities that might bring them professionally or otherwise into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals in rabies-affected areas. As children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites, their immunization could be considered if living in or visiting high-risk areas.
WHO information page