The neurological disease is 100% fatal in humans if left untreated, and is spread through the bite of an infected animal, most commonly dogs.
Dr Katie Hampson, a Welcome Trust research fellow in the institute of biodiversity, animal health and comparative medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: “Vaccinating dogs is the single-most effective way of eliminating rabies.
“Over 50 people are bitten every minute from a rabid dog and many of those in poor countries cannot afford the $100 cost of post-bite treatment.
“If you can vaccinate more than 70% of dogs through sustained campaigns, it is enough to interrupt transmission in the reservoir population so that the disease is eliminated.
“This disease of the nervous system can be eliminated, cost-effectively, if there is a will and efforts are properly coordinated.
“That is how rabies has been purged from most industrialised countries and why South America is so close to eradicating dog-transmitted rabies from the whole American continent.
“Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux invented a rabies vaccine in 1885 and dreamed of ridding the world of this horrible disease. Nearly 130 years later we have the opportunity to do just that. We should take it.”
The case for rabies elimination through vaccination of dogs is put forward in an article in the journal, Science. The article is co-written by Dr Katie Hampson, Dr Tiziana Lembo, and Prof Sarah Cleaveland at the University of Glasgow, with colleagues at Washington State University, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
University of Glasgow: ‘We can eliminate rabies, say researchers’
The Conversation: ‘Rabies – a global killer that dog jabs can eliminate’