The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, highlights the importance of vigilance against rabies on World Rabies Day 2020


Today, 28th September, is World Rabies Day 2020.  Ireland has been free from rabies since 1903, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has policies in place to maintain this freedom.  However, Ireland is not free from the risk of rabies, as cases have been reported in pets and wildlife throughout Europe in recent years. The Department is taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of continuing vigilance against rabies, especially if bringing your pet abroad or importing a pet to Ireland.
Increasing movements of pet animals throughout Europe means that we must remain vigilant.  Everyone in Ireland has a part to play – the most likely way rabies could be introduced into the country is through import of pet or exotic animals. Legislative requirements for importing pet and exotic animals differ by animal species and country of origin. Details can be found on the Department’s website here. Depending on the country of origin, pet and exotic animals entering Ireland may need to be vaccinated against rabies before they arrive. It is important to understand and comply with the legal requirements if importing pet or exotic animals.
Rabies is one of the most deadly zoonotic diseases worldwide, and kills nearly 59,000 people annually. The theme of World Rabies Day 2020 is ‘End Rabies: Collaborate. Vaccinate’ and the aim is to help in the fight to eliminate all human deaths from canine mediated rabies by 2030. Events are being organised worldwide by participating organisations to help raise awareness.
Rabies is a notifiable disease in Ireland, which means by law you must notify DAFM immediately, by contacting your local Regional Veterinary Office, if you suspect an animal is affected by rabies. More information about rabies can be found on the Department’s website here, and information about bringing pets into Ireland can be found here.
    Rabies logo (pdf 100Kb)   

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control theme this year is: vaccination and collaboration  
In brief, the theme reminds us of key current issues in rabies elimination, namely:

  • the goal of Zero by 30
  • the importance of dog vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis
  • the need for a united effort towards achieving elimination of this transboundary disease.

Notes for editors:

  • World Rabies Day is in its 14th year and is organised by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. More information can be found here.
  • The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) estimate that nearly 59,000 people across the world die every year from rabies and that rabies is still endemic in 150 countries/territories worldwide. OIE link
  • Most human deaths are due to dog bites and occur in children in developing countries. The majority of these deaths are preventable by increasing public awareness and access to canine rabies vaccine.
  • Once symptoms of Rabies appear, the disease is almost always fatal, in animals as well as in humans.
  • Rabies eradication requires a multidisciplinary One Health approach including health, veterinary and local authorities. Rabies can be eliminated for good by working together.
  • In 2015 the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with partners, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) announced their framework for eliminating rabies by 2030.
  • OIE Vaccine Bank for Rabies: vaccinating dogs today to save human lives tomorrow. By providing high quality vaccines, the OIE vaccine bank helps countries implement vaccination campaigns and contribute to the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies. More information here
  • A European Commission video entitled ‘EU pet passports and the fight against rabies’ can be found here.
  • Rabies is a notifiable disease in the Republic of Ireland. If you suspect an animal of being affected by rabies you must notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine immediately, by contacting your local Regional Veterinary Office. A list of Regional Veterinary Offices can be found here.



Date Released: 28 September 2020

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