Australia supports fight against rabies in south-east Asia

The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia
  • Today is World Rabies Day
  • Australia is committed to maintaining our freedom from rabies, a deadly disease which is present in many countries to our north.
  • On World Rabies Day, Australia reaffirms its support of global efforts to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies.

    Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said rabies was a viral zoonotic disease that could be transmitted from infected animals to people.

    “99 per cent of human rabies deaths globally occur due to bites from infected dogs,” Minister Littleproud said.

    “Ongoing surveillance and community engagement work through the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy is vital to protecting our northern border from the threat of rabies.

    “When pets and other animals are imported to Australia, robust biosecurity policies and Australia’s post entry quarantine facility ensure our disease-free status is safeguarded.

    “Australia also provides support for rabies control in south-east Asia and to maintain Timor-Leste’s and Papua New Guinea’s rabies-free status.

    “This benefits our neighbours, decreases the disease risk to Australia, and contributes to the global initiative to achieve zero human deaths due to dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

    “As almost all human rabies cases come from infected dog bites and scratches, dog vaccination is the most cost-effective and sustainable way to control and eradicate rabies.

    “Protecting dogs from rabies means eliminating the threat of rabies to humans.

    “In the past decade Australia has supported rabies control programs in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and the Philippines, including funding more than 1 million doses of vaccine.

    “We have also supported countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the development of rabies education campaigns.”

    This work is ongoing, including through Australia’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security which is managing a One Health Partnership with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

    Important work is underway updating the ASEAN Rabies Eradication Strategy and supporting risk assessments in neighbouring countries to identify the possible reasons for maintenance of rabies hotspots so that targeted control programs can be implemented. Australians are also assuming key leadership roles in international organisations.

    “Congratulations to Australian veterinarian Dr Rachel Tidman, who was recently appointed as Global Rabies Coordinator at the OIE.

    “This position is pivotal to global rabies control and leads collaboration with major international organisations to implement rabies strategies that build global animal health system capacity and protect public health.

    “This work will continue a rich tradition of Australians contributing to the global improvement of animal and human health.”

    Fast Facts

    • Almost 60,000 people across the world die from rabies annually, a disease which is easily prevented through vaccination of dogs.
    • World Rabies Day is a global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention, with a theme in 2021 of ‘Rabies: Facts, Not Fear’.
    • The United Against Rabies collaboration ‘Zero by 30’ global campaign is aiming to achieve zero human deaths due to dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

    /Public Release. View in full here.