Every year about 60,000 people die from rabies, most of them in Asia and Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The disease – a virus that kills through acute brain inflammation – is, however, treatable if dealt with quickly.

The WHO recommendation for individuals who have had contact with a suspect rabid animal is the following:

• Wash any wound carefully with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.

• Apply ethanol or a similar antiseptic to prevent secondary infection.

• Seek medical attention as soon as possible for post-exposure vaccine treatment.

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control explains that modern vaccines are the only way to prevent the onset of rabies after exposure. Traditional remedies, such as jackfruit gum and chilli powder do not stop the virus, it said. (Read more in its FAQ).

Dogs are the source of 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans, according to the WHO. There is however a misconception that dogs with rabies are aggressive, a state known as “furious form.” In fact, a puppy that just wants to play could be rabid and transmit the virus.

WHO Fact Sheet on rabies

  • 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.
  • 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.

More Asia Times stories on rabies:

That rabid dog in China could be the puppy in your lap

China falls victim to illegal rabies vaccines