India bears the world’s heaviest rabies burden, according to a study from the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, accounting for 35% of all deaths due to the disease. Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised (data from GARC).
1. Vaccination coverage of dogs
Among the BRICS nations, India has the highest population of dogs and one of the lowest rates of vaccination.
2. Chances of receiving care
If you were bitten by an animal, in India the animal could be rabid 54% of time, and in China, 55%. But of every thousand people bitten by rabid animals, 24 don’t receive palliative care in India, while only 4 people don’t receive it in China.
3. Access to post-exposure care
Despite China being more populous than India and having a greater bite-incidence (1,107 vs. 691, per 100,000 people), the years of life lost due to rabies is higher in India. The GARC report uses multiple studies to come up with different estimates of that number, but India’s lower limit is comfortably higher than other BRICS countries’ upper limits. This is about there being more people in India exposed to dog-bites – as well as about the physical access to, the quality of and the affordability of care.