DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- At least 1,500 people are killed by rabies in Tanzania annually, the east African nation's Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu, said on Saturday.
"The number of people killed by rabies could be much higher as some cases are not officially reported in health centers," she said at an event to commemorate the 13th World Rabies Day whose theme focused on vaccination, the foundation of all rabies control efforts.
Most of the victims of rabies were children and transmission was through dog bites, she told a public rally in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
"Studies done in 2002 showed that rabies killed 1,499 people annually. And this number could be more because some of the deaths are not reported," she said.
The official said from January to August this year 16,290 were reported to have been bitten by dogs across the country.
She said between April and May this year the government released 16,000 vaccines against the deadly rabies.
World Rabies Day is the global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention.
It is an opportunity to unite as a community and for individuals, non-governmental organizations and governments to connect and share their work.
Rabies is the most fatal virus zoonosis, a disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans.
Once an infected person shows signs, there is no cure for it. In Africa and Asia, many humans get infected by rabies through dog bites.
The World Health Organization stresses the importance of dog vaccination as the most effective intervention against rabies, decreasing rabies in dogs and having a direct impact on public health by reducing transmission to humans.