Rabies a largely underestimated disease

By July 4, 2007

Tanzania (MNN) — Prayers were answered for missionaries in Tanzania in June. 

After an outbreak of rabies in the Rukwa Valley of Tanzania, missionaries from Grace Ministries International began discussing purchasing vaccines. They e-mailed Cory Hodgson, a GMI missionary in Tanzania, telling him to order $300 worth of rabies vaccines from the pharmacy in Mbeya.

Meanwhile, Seattle Berean Church sent a gift to GMI to be used specifically for purchasing rabies vaccines.

After e-mailing Hodgson, the missionaries downloaded the rest of their e-mails and found a notice from the GMI offices telling them about the financial gift from the Seattle church. It was for $300– the exact amount they needed to cover the vaccines they had just purchased.

The outbreak of rabies was caused by rabid bush cats and dogs biting people in the valley area. Rabies is a fatal disease. However, safe and effective vaccines are available for both humans and animals. Most rabies deaths occur in Asia and Africa, but the disease is poorly controlled though preventative measures are available. 

The World Health Organization reports that more than three billion people are at risk for contracting rabies in more than 85 countries and territories. In Tanzania, it is estimated that 1500 rabies deaths occur annually.

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