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Gone to the dogs: Rabies control and street dog welfare in India

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Street dogs are everywhere in India. From the highest mountain ranges to the harshest deserts, from densely crowded urban areas to rural fields. With around 60 million free-ranging dogs, India arguably has the biggest population of street dogs in the world. Most of these dogs aren’t vaccinated against rabies. 

Rabies, one of the oldest zoonotic diseases known to humankind, kills 18,000-20,000 Indians every year. That’s a third of the world’s rabies burden. Nearly 97% of rabies cases are dog-mediated, as dogs are the major reservoirs of this neurotropic virus.  

In this episode of Science and Us, Mahima Jain reports on the link between street dogs and India’s struggles with rabies elimination. From how India ended up with an overpopulation of street dogs, to the potential barriers in implementing the recently launched National Action Plan for Rabies Elimination by 2030, we take you through the many factors that complicate rabies control and dog welfare in India. 

Show Notes: 

Rabies as a Public Health Concern in India—A Historical Perspective
Overview of Animal Laws in India
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: Global Rabies
US National Library of Medicine: Striking back against rabies
Burden of illness of dog-mediated rabies in India: A systematic review
Modelling the challenges of managing free-ranging dog populations
WHO Rabies: 

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