Mexico is the first country in the world declared free of rabies in humans transmitted by dogs, according to the World Health Organization.
Brown dog lying on the floor. / Photo: Unsplash - Reference Image
LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho
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Leer en español: México, un país con muchos problemas pero sin rabia
Mexico is the first country in the world declared free of rabies in humans transmitted by dogs, according to the World Health Organization, WHO, the country achieved this goal through campaigns held for several decades, hundreds of miles of dogs were vaccinated for free.
“Eliminating rabies does not happen by accident, political determination, careful planning, and meticulous execution are needed,” were the words of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Although the efforts in Latin America are constant and have given very important results, Mexico leads the way. Since 1983 throughout the region, the cases of the disease in humans have been reduced by 95% and 98% in dogs.
“Mexico is showing the world that ending infectious diseases for new generations is possible and is the way forward,” were the words of Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization regarding this news that satisfies not only those who have participated in the multiple alternatives created to curb the disease, it is also a cause for celebration for future generations who will face a less health problem in the region.
In addition to the free and massive vaccination campaigns, the national control and elimination strategy has set its success on three complementary fundamental pillars, the effective and continuous monitoring of each potential case, the awareness of communities regarding the dangers associated with rage and of course, timely diagnosis.
In just a decade, Mexico went from reporting 60 cases annually in 1990 to only three cases in 1999 and achieved its reduction to zero cases since 2006 when the last reported cases were presented to two people who were bitten the previous year.
The WHO declares a country free of rabies after three years of not presenting any case of human infection from dogs, however, there was no validation protocol that allowed corroborating the goal achieved.
The Pan American Health Organization, PAHO and WHO developed the validation process and Mexico applied to it since 2016. The country prepared a file of almost 300 pages in which it documented all the historical information and the references of the reported cases. through time for a committee made up of independent international experts under the supervision and accompaniment of PAHO.
The visits by the experts began in 2018 with the aim of corroborating if all the requirements and procedures stipulated to achieve the objective were being met. In September 2019, this panel of experts recommended that Mexico be validated as the first country in the world declared free of transmission of rabies from dogs to humans.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system that causes encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, recognized by some symptoms such as severe headaches, stiff neck and neck, high fevers and in some cases involuntary abnormal movements accompanied by sensory disturbances. In the ear and vision.
It is a disease classified as viral zoonotic, that is, it is transmitted naturally from animals to humans and sometimes vice versa. The rabies virus is housed in the saliva and secretions of infected animals and is transmitted when the infected animal comes into contact with the human through a bite or when the human has an open wound and is exposed to the salivary secretions of the animal.
Rabies occurs in two types of clinical manifestations, furious and paralytic, furious is presented with agitation, hallucinations, confusion, and hyperactivity and occurs primarily in carnivorous mammals. The paralytic manifestation is exteriorized in rodents, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and horses mainly. In both cases, it is fatal in almost 100% after clinical symptoms have manifested.
Given the importance of keeping this contagious disease at bay, in Mexico campaigns for the prevention of regrowths continue, because although the transmission of dogs to humans was eliminated, it still occurs in wild animals, especially in bats, so the WHO and PAHO recommendation have been surveillance, control, and prevention.