World Rabies Day, Sept. 8, 2007 is a new, international event launching global efforts to eliminate rabies. The inaugural event will remind people that rabies is still a very deadly but preventable disease. Last year alone, at least 55,000 people died of rabies worldwide, including three in the United States, which had almost 7,000 confirmed cases of animal rabies.

In the United States, rabies is still present in bat populations (as well as regionally in raccoon, fox, and skunk) in every state but Hawaii, according to a rabies surveillance report published in the August 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The inaugural World Rabies Day includes participation by Canada, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Thailand, Ethiopia, South Africa, Germany, Haiti, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United Sates, including veterinary medical school fund-raisers and educational programs by virtually every Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) chapter.

"Human rabies can be prevented, canine rabies can be eliminated, and wildlife rabies can be controlled," said Dr. Charles E. Rupprecht, chief rabies officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "People have no idea that people are dying in the developing world because they have no vaccine. Some developing countries have substandard vaccines, and others don't have anything at all."

The event will include the World Rabies Day Symposium and Expo to be held on Sept. 7, 2007 in Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Rupprecht, as well as speakers from the Wildlife Services of the USDA, the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases and the Pan-American Health Organization, will discuss the challenges of rabies control. Jeana Giese, the world's first rabies survivor, will recount her personal ordeal with the deadly disease. For more information or educational materials, please visit worldrabiesday and/or avma.

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