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Eliminating Dogs As The Reservoir For Rabies Outbreaks

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— There have been some widespread rabies outbreaks around the world and it's getting recognition partly because of the recent Chinese government killing of 5,000 dogs in one city after five people were diagnosed with the disease.

"What's interesting is that in the United States we've eliminated dogs as the reservoir for rabies through massive safe and effective vaccine campaigns," said co-President of the San Francisco SPCA, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett. In many parts of the developing world that is unfortunately not the case.

Eliminating Dogs As The Reservoir For Rabies Outbreaks

There are estimated to be 55,000 human deaths in Asia and Africa because of rabid dogs. Unfortunately the efforts to control dog rabies in these parts of the world can be barbaric. According to Dr. Scarlett, many countries resort to culling dogs by either bludgeoning or poisoning them.

"It's been shown that that is not effective. What needs to happen are massive rabies vaccination programs. In developing counties The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with local governments on vaccine programs for dogs as well as other animals and education and awareness for people."

Dr. Scarlett points out that many of these countries lack public health resources and she said that's reflected with the current Ebola outbreak. Until those resources come in or are made possible, she said that's what's going to change things from bludgeoning dogs to massive vaccine strategy.

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