Rabies From Dogs Kills 160 People a Day
First global survey finds surprising numbers, especially in Asia and Africa
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2015 3:38 PM CDT
Updated Apr 19, 2015 7:00 PM CDT
Stray dogs peer out of cages in a shelter in Bucharest, Romania.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

(Newser) – The first worldwide survey of rabies finds some surprisingly high numbers—figure about 160 deaths a day from dog bites alone. More than a third occur in India, and about half the victims are kids. Authors of the study in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases say it's ridiculous that tens of thousands of people die annually from such an easily preventable viral disease, reports Medical News Today. They called for tougher rules on dog vaccinations, especially in poor regions of the world, along with more affordable vaccines for those who have been bitten, reports the BBC.

The survey by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control says that sub-Sahara Africa has the highest death rates but that India has the most fatalities: Its 21,000 deaths per year account for 35% of all such deaths. In almost all African and Asian nations, the vaccination rates for dogs fall below levels needed to keep rabies under control, says the study, which pegs the disease's annual financial toll at $8.6 billion. Why so many young victims? It's not complicated: "Children tend to be attracted towards dogs," a doctor with the rabies group tells Voice of America. "And they may not understand exactly how to behave around a dog." (Rabies cases are relatively rare in the US, but keep an eye out for crazy-acting raccoons.)