Rabies is a deadly disease prevalent in Thailand. It is a virus spread by bites and scratches from an animal that is a carrier of the virus. Symptoms of rabies are frothing at the mouth, running around wildly and snapping at the air. Any warm-blooded animal can be a carrier of rabies.
All dogs and cats are required to be vaccinated. The vaccine is cheap and readily available from veterinarians around the country. Boosters should be given annually.
Unfortunately, routine vaccinations are rarely enforced in Thailand and it is up to the pet owners to be responsible and ensure that their pet is up to date on its vaccinations. To make the situation worse, the millions of stray dogs and cats who have no owners rarely receive health care of any kind, let alone annual vaccinations.
Thailand is one of the countries with the highest risk for travelers. About 200-300 human deaths are contributed to rabies annually in Thailand with 95% of those due to dog bites (from Medical College of Wisconsin).
About this video:
It has been called “a forgotten disease”. Yet, rabies claims 55,000 lives worldwide per year – with most deaths occurring in rural areas of Africa and Asia.
It is a disease that can be eliminated, as has happened in developed countries. But in Asia the fight often faces cultural challenges.
Selina Downes reports from Bangkok.
October 28, 2007