Images: On

A Significant Public Health Problem

Rabies is one of the most feared human diseases

It is still present in around 150 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. It is a high priority zoonotic disease in many of those countries, killing around 60,000 people or one person every nine minutes. Around 40% of fatalities are children under the age of 15.


Up to 99% of human rabies cases are caused by domestic dogs.

The means of transmission is saliva, usually via the bite of an infected animal. The virus enters the central nervous system and the disease is fatal once clinical symptoms appear.

The total cost of rabies globally is estimated to be around $8.6 billion per year in lost lives, lost livelihoods and high costs of treatment. Rabies today is a disease of poverty and neglect.

The Cost of Rabies

UAR SDG 1 Graphic – No Poverty

If left untreated, rabies infection is 100% fatal, however many of the poorest people are simply unable to access any post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or biologicals (rabies immunoglobin) at all. These communities also rarely benefit from dog vaccination programs.

It is estimated that if no additional measures were taken, one million people would die from rabies between 2020 and 2035. That estimate was made before the Covid pandemic, which significantly set back all public health services, including rabies control.

Barriers to progress include lack of sustained planning and funding around rabies control, lack of political engagement, weak data, lack of surveillance and reporting, inconsistent demand for canine vaccine and high cost and unequal access to PEP. Dog vaccination, a key element of rabies control, often falls ‘between the cracks’ of public health, agricultural and veterinary sectors and is often left to under-resourced local government authorities.

Yet vaccines against rabies have existed for over 100 years. The disease is 100% preventable and human deaths from the disease have been eliminated in most of Europe and North America.


UAR SDG 17 Graphic – Partnership

Rabies is a disease we can beat – if we work together.

United Against Rabies is committed to enabling cross-sector partnership and support for countries to implement the objectives agreed in Zero By Thirty: The Global Strategic Plan to End Human Deaths from Dog Mediated Rabies by 2030.

Man vaccinating dog

A Neglected Tropical Disease

Rabies is one of 20 NTDs identified by the World Health Organization.

African boys walking with dog

Case for Investment

Rabies costs an estimated $8.6 billion per year in lost lives, lost livelihoods and high costs of treatment.