The location, on the campus of Mississippi State University, was chosen last year during a competition between U.S. veterinary colleges in which pharmaceutical giant Merial Ltd. of Duluth, Ga., asked students to raise awareness about rabies in their communities.
Mississippi State's Class of 2016 hosted a community education program and coined the phrase "Less Rabies, More Cowbell,” which was printed on T-shirts sold to students and faculty.
"We had a great time competing and promoting rabies education last year,” said Ryan Gibson, Class of 2016 president. "Getting to host this national event this year is an honor.”
The symposium will address rabies from local to international angles. Its goals are to increase rabies awareness and its impact on human and animal health and to encourage prevention through education and animal vaccination.
Hundreds of experts and students are expected to attend the conference, which will take place on World Rabies Day.
Hosting the event is as opportunity to highlight the intersection of animal and human health, said Kent Hoblet, MS, DVM, Dipl. ACVPM, the dean of MSU’s veterinary college.
"Veterinarians are the first ones to see diseases that ultimately affect public health,” he said. "We look forward to having national experts on this issue and to engaging students in these topics.”
Merial, the symposium’s sponsor, sees rabies as a continued threat, both abroad and in the United States.
"Many pet owners in the U.S. may be unaware of the continued problem of rabies because local laws have done a lot to curtail rabies in dogs in this country,” said Joanne Maki, MS, DVM, Ph.D., the global public health technical director for Merial.
"However, rabies continues to be an issue among unvaccinated pets and wildlife domestically, and an even larger problem for animals abroad with fewer laws around vaccination,” Dr. Maki added. "As many as 70,000 people a year are killed worldwide by rabies, most of whom are infected by animals.”
The Class of 2016 is working with Merial to organize the event. More information, including registration details, will be made available during the summer.