Rabies is a fatal and neglected zoonotic disease that causes an estimated 55,000 deaths in annually withan average of one death every 10 minutes in the world.Most of these deaths occurin developing countries of Asia (about 20,000 deaths per year in India alone) and Africa where domestic dogsare the principal reservoir and a vector for human rabies transmission,and where rabies control programmes are inadequate.
Rabies was prevalent in most parts of Bhutan until the early 1990s but has been controlled mainly through mass vaccination and sterilization program. Currently rabies is prevalent in the southern districts of Bhutan bordering India and causes deaths in both human and livestock. However, re-emergence of rabies in dogs and subsequent spill-over infection to other domestic animals have also been reported in previously free areas of east and south-western districts of Bhutan indicating the risk of re-emergence of rabies in the country if proper surveillance and control program are not implemented. Fifty-nine of the 205 sub-districts have reported rabies in animals from 1996 to 2012 with increased incidences in the four districts in southern Bhutan (Sarpang, Chhukha, Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar). A total of 943 rabies cases were reported in domestic animals during the same period. Dogs are the main reservoirs for rabies in Bhutan and therefore, it is important to control rabies in dogs through vaccination and sterilization.
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