In August 2010, the Peruvian Health Ministry reported an outbreak of rabies in humans caused by bites from vampire bats. Vampire bats normally feed on blood from livestock or other animals, attacking them at night while the animals are sleeping.
In the incident reported by the Peruvian Health Ministry, rabid vampire bats have reportedly bitten at least 508 people in a remote village in the Amazon rainforest and four children have died from rabies as a result of the bites. It is unclear when the deaths occurred and the timeframe in which the biting incidents occurred.
The Peruvian government has sent medical supplies and rabies vaccines to treat the infected people, and health teams are checking people in communities within 6 miles of the outbreak for further cases. Residents are being advised to sleep under mosquito netting and to get regular injections to guard against the infection.
The recent outbreak of rabies in Peru serves to emphasize the importance of rabies as a preventable cause of death in people. Throughout the world, it is estimated that more than 55,000 people die on an annual basis from rabies, and most of these cases are caused by bites from rabid dogs.
As a disease, rabies is both preventable and treatable if caught early enough in its course. The disease continues to be a problem for humans in underdeveloped parts of the world, mainly due to lack of education about its prevention and lack of access to appropriate medical treatment.
September 28, 2010 marks the date of the 4th annual World Rabies Day. The goal of the organizers of the first World Rabies Day was to engage 55,000 people to take action, one for each person who dies each year from rabies. Over 400,000 people in 74 countries took part in that first campaign, exceeding all expectations.
Since then, World Rabies Day events have been held in over 125 countries, educating 100 million people and vaccinating 3 million dogs. The mission of World Rabies Day is to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, about how easy it is to prevent it, and about how to eliminate the main global sources of rabies through animal vaccination and control.
Go to the official website for World Rabies Day at www.worldrabiesday.org for more information about how you can help. Follow the links on this website to find reputable sites where you can learn accurate information about this important disease.
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