September 28th 2021 is the 15th World Rabies Day.
This year’s World Rabies Day theme is: “Rabies: Facts, not Fear”.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has raised many doubts and misconceptions about diseases, their spread and about vaccination in general. Because of this, there has been some hesitancy about the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines in many countries and many people are afraid to get vaccinated. For rabies, this is nothing new, as fears, misconceptions and misinformation about the disease and its prevention dates back hundreds of years. For that reason, this year’s theme is focused on sharing facts about rabies, and not spreading fear about the disease by relying on misinformation and myths.
Facts: Facts are essential for raising disease awareness, preventing rabies cases, having the animal population vaccinated, and educating people about the dangers of rabies and how to prevent it. Without facts we would not have data for decision-makers to inform them of the serious nature of the disease. We would not be able to advocate for its elimination and the burden of the disease would remain unknown, resulting in tens of thousands of people and animals continuing to die from rabies each year. Let us use facts to raise awareness and educate others about rabies – a 99% fatal, yet 100% preventable disease.
Fear: The word “fear” has three meanings in this year’s theme. Firstly, it relates to the general fear caused by rabies, the fear people experience when encountering rabid animals, and the fear that people live with in communities plagued by rabies. The second meaning relates directly to the symptom of fear that people may experience when infected with rabies. Lastly, fear relates to the fear caused by ‘fake news’ or myths about rabies – making people afraid of vaccination, making people afraid to get their animals sterilized or vaccinated, and making people believe in ineffective treatments for the disease.
Let us work together to spread Facts, and not Fear, this World Rabies Day!
This year’s theme has been designed so that you can participate in several different ways, making World Rabies Day a day that everyone can take part in.
Here are some ideas and suggestions for you to consider when planning your World Rabies Day event:
Learn facts, not fear: Educate yourself and share your knowledge with others. You can become a certified rabies educator with the Rabies Educator Certificate or do a profession-specific course.
Use facts, not fear: We can all contribute to gathering evidence so that rabies elimination efforts can be based on scientific knowledge and facts. Use the information that you learn from our certified online courses to advocate for better rabies control initiatives in your community, whether this relates to calling for mass dog vaccination, or advocating for humane dog population management instead of ineffective dog culling.
Spread facts, not fear: Get involved by sharing accurate facts about rabies, while dispelling myths, doubt, and misconceptions – you can do this with messages on social media, or awareness talks in your community.