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KUSA - More than 50,000 people worldwide die from rabies each year.

The spread of the disease is a growing concern not only in the United States, but in countries all across the globe.

That growing problem has inspired a group of Denver veterinarians to step in and help tackle what they're calling a growing rabies epidemic.

Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo is one of eight local veterinarians taking a three-week trip to Kenya. Their mission: to vaccinate

1,500 dogs and cats in seven Kenyan communities. Lavizzo says rabies is carried by 90 percent of wild animals including dogs and cats that often roam around villages and have contact with people.

"Rabies in a threat for the entire world," Lavizzo said. "In 2012, there was a spike in rabies that killed people,dogs and livestock."

Lavizzo says more needs to be done to stop the spread of rabies. Recently, he partnered with the African Network for Animal Welfare. Through their partnership, hundreds of animals will receive free rabies vaccinations.

It's a service that will save the lives of thousands of animals in Kenya and will decrease the chances of the disease spreading to humans, which if transmitted, can be deadly.

"I'm excited to help," Lavizzo said. It's a global effort what we are doing."

Lavizzo says untreated animals are often poisoned and killed in countries like Kenya because the cost of animal care, including vaccinations, is too expensive.

He says $5,000 worth of rabies vaccinations will be administered to animals in Kenya during the trip.

To learn more about the African Network for Animal Welfare, click here: http://www.anaw.org/

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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