The animal health division of Sanofi is joining the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to recognize the Sept. 28 events.
Merial is encouraging dog owners to participate in the alliance’s "Me and My Dog — Together Against Rabies" campaign by sharing a photo of themselves with their dog on social media and using the hash tags #TogetherAgainstRabies and #MerialMeAndMyDog.
Rabies is a contagious, lethal disease in animals that is typically transmitted to pets through contact with wild animals, and can be transmitted to humans, says Joanne Maki, director veterinary public health for wildlife and companion animals for Merial.
“Fortunately, rabies is easily preventable through vaccination," Maki says in a release. "World Rabies Day is a unique opportunity for all of us to play a part in spreading the word about eliminating human rabies through the vaccination of animals. The more of us who participate, the stronger we are in this important fight."
World Rabies Day, held on Sept. 28 every year, was initiated by Global Alliance for Rabies Control in 2007 to create a global opportunity for people to unite in rabies prevention. Since then, it has grown year upon year, with hundreds of thousands of people organizing and participating in local, regional and national events.
"Me and my dog – Together against Rabies" is a social media campaign that asks individuals to share their photos and stories about their dogs and sign a pledge to support mass canine vaccination. Photos and pledges can be shared on the campaign website or on alliance’s Facebook wall.
Merial is a long-time developer of vaccines to protect both wildlife and pets, going back to Institute Pasteur-Merieux, makers of the world's first rabies vaccines. The company also partners with government and non-profit organizations to prevent the spread of rabies as well as fight outbreaks worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 70,000 people die from rabies annually, with over 99% of these deaths in Africa and Asia, as a result of being bitten by an infected dog. Up to 60% of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age. Rabies is 99.9% fatal, but it is also 100% preventable. Eliminating the disease by vaccinating dogs protects them and stops transmission to people.