More than 95% of human cases of rabies are due to bites from infected dogs. Controlling and eradicating rabies therefore means combatting it at its animal source.
Mass vaccination of dogs is the method of choice, because it is the only real way to interrupt the disease’s infectious cycle between animals and humans.
Some countries have already managed to eradicate the disease by applying strict prophylactic measures. But it remains endemic in other countries, mainly affecting wild host species.
In countries where rabies is endemic, measures are in place to control and reduce the risk of infection in vulnerable populations (wildlife, stray and domestic animals) and create a barrier between the animal source and humans.
To achieve this, there need to be mass dog vaccination campaignscombined with public information campaigns and the improvement of access to human medical care (anti-rabies vaccines and sera).
The effective control of stray dog populations and responsible behaviour by dog owners
The OIE develops and publishes regularly updated, scientific standards regarding:
These standards have been adopted through consensus by all 180 OIE Member Countries.
Aside from its normative work, the OIE has two objectives:
Veterinarians and the national Veterinary Services of OIE Member Countries have a major role to play in implementing these strategies at the national and regional level. Their involvement is a vital element in coordinating operations between public health services, local authorities including town councils, law enforcement agencies, and NGOs working in some of the poorest countries.
Support for developing countries is essential. With the financial support of the European Union, Australia, Germany and France, the OIE World Animal Health and Welfare Fund has already enabled various steps to be taken, such as the creation of an anti-rabies dog vaccine bank to be used by some of Asia’s and, since 2014, of Africa’s poorest countries.
To date (Aug. 2016), 12.5 million anti-rabies vaccines have been disseminated by the OIE. Of these, 4 million have been directly delivered by the OIE to fifteen countries to aid their national vaccination programmes. An additional 3.5 million doses have been ordered by countries or international organisations, bringing the total number of rabies vaccines requested to over 16 million.
In addition, in the framework of the Tripartite Alliance (WHO, OIE, FAO) on rabies control, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to place its procurement orders for canine vaccines through the OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank. As of August 2016, 11 million doses of rabies vaccines were purchased by WHO through the OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank for delivery to the Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania.
This model guarantees the availability of high-quality vaccines complying with OIE intergovernmental Standards as well as their rapid delivery on the ground and a price obtained after a global competition between potential providers.
How does the OIE rabies Vaccine Bank work?
Key Messages from the WHO/OIE Consultation held in Geneva, Switzerland
12-13 October 2015