Dakar - Rabies kills 24 000 people a year in Africa, most of
them children, because many on the world's poorest continent cannot afford the
cost of the vaccine, experts said on Thursday.
Africa is home to nearly half the 55 000 people around the
world who die each year from rabies, caused mainly by bites from dogs contaminated
with the virus, according to a conference of experts on the disease in the
Senegalese capital Dakar.
Vaccination of humans, as well as dogs and domestic pets, is
the only way to prevent the spread of the disease.
"This is the disease of the poorest of the poor who
can't afford the vaccine," Herve Bourhy, a doctor at France's Pasteur
Institute, told reporters.
An anti-rabies vaccine costs 10 euros per injection and four
to five vaccinations are needed to create immunity. For many in poor rural
African areas where the disease is endemic, this is prohibitively expensive.
With that in mind, rabies experts from 15 sub-Saharan and
north African countries who took part in the conference said the most effective
way of avoiding the spread of the disease in many parts of Africa was simply to
tie up dogs.