Empowering Riverine Communities in the Amazon: Strategies for Preventing Rabies
Rabies, caused by the Lyssavirus genus, is a highly lethal zoonotic disease transmitted by animals such as bats and domestic and wild carnivores to humans, claiming nearly 100% of lives. In Brazil, recent evidence suggests an increasing role of bats in human deaths from rabies, particularly in the Amazon region. This neglected tropical disease disproportionately affects impoverished and vulnerable populations in rural areas, where approximately 80% of human cases are concentrated. This article presents research conducted in riverine communities of the Tapajós/Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil to combat rabies in September 2022. The study adopted a participatory and collaborative approach, involving community members, healthcare professionals, and educators. Prioritizing proactive interventions, the health team administered prophylactic vaccinations to 30 individuals residing in communities exposed to the Lyssavirus. Educational activities focused on dispelling myths and raising awareness about preventive measures, with 100% of individuals reporting prior doubts about the disease, emphasizing the essential nature of the clarification, especially regarding preventive aspects. This study underscores the importance of community involvement, personalized interventions, and ongoing education to effectively combat rabies. By reinforcing public health policies and promoting health education, we can empower communities to take proactive measures in rabies prevention, leading to a reduction in incidence and an improvement in quality of life.