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Joining efforts to combat rabies

The following stories show the actions carried out by several Member Countries to fight against rabies. All the tools to eliminate the disease at its animal source already exist and the OIE proposes various programmes to support its Members in the implementation of their national rabies elimination strategies.

Discover here how these programmes can benefit countries.

 

Myanmar: Sharing the message on rabies to save lives

Myanmar - 2016-2017-2018

“Rabies kills”. Daw Kyi, a 68-years old farmer, grew up hearing this statement and stories about regular human and dog rabies cases in her small rural village in the Lewei township of Myanmar. As many other inhabitants of her village and neighbouring ones, she knew that the deadly disease could easily be transmitted from dogs to humans but had very little knowledge on what to do to prevent it.

In 2016, the situation changed. The Myanmar Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD), with the support of the OIE, initiated a pilot project in Lewei to demonstrate that rabies can be eliminated by vaccinating dogs, the primary source of human cases. House-to-house free dog vaccinations were developed, reaching 100,000 animals at this initial step. However, the pilot was not limited to the vaccination campaigns: aware of the importance of education to prevent rabies, the LBVD developed public awareness activities for a better understanding of the disease and its prevention. It was the first time in their lives that Daw Kyi and her neighbours participated in rabies talks and received communication tools on the importance of vaccinating dogs and treating bite wounds to protect themselves from this 99.9% fatal disease.

The pilot project, part of the Rabies National Control Programme, was repeated in 2017 and 2018, and extended to other townships. The OIE provided technical and financial resources to Myanmar to conduct these activities: 450,000 doses of dog rabies vaccines were delivered through the OIE Vaccine Bank and vaccinators were trained on good practices before the campaigns.

Thanks to the pilot activities implemented, zero animal rabies cases were reported in Lewei during 2016-2018. Moreover, the impact goes further: the number of dog bite patients that receive post exposure prophylaxis at hospitals has increased, as Daw Kyi and her neighbours are now aware about dog bite management. No human dog rabies case was reported in their village since the beginning of the dog vaccination campaign: new generations can now grow up in a different reality than those of their elders.

The pilot project developed in Lewei shows that it is possible to control rabies by sharing the message on how we can prevent the disease and implementing the needed measures. However, an average of 200 human rabies cases per year have still been confirmed in Myanmar over the five past years. As next steps, Myanmar plans to expand the awareness activities to other risk areas as part of their National Plan for Rabies Elimination (2018-2030), to ensure that everyone in the country grows up knowing how to prevent rabies.

©Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department

 

Supporting national strategies against rabies

Northern Communal Area (Namibia) - 2016-2018

Implementing a national rabies elimination strategy is a long-term process which involves many different actors. In order to best accompany countries’ effort to eliminate the disease, the OIE puts in place various programmes.

A recent example is the launch of a 3-year project in northern Namibia, where 93% of the country’s dog rabies cases occur. Commenced shortly after the launch of the government’s National Rabies Control Strategy, this project aims to escalate the number of vaccinated dogs and to increase awareness among the population, with the objective of eliminating rabies. An initial pilot phase was implemented in the Oshana region from March 2016: following its success it has been extended to seven neighbouring areas (Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kunene, Omusati, Kavango West, Kavango East, Zambezi) and will run until May 2018.

Lessons learnt from this successful example will help improve rabies control in Southern Africa.

 

Vaccinating stray dogs to save human lives

Tunis (Tunisia) - May 2017

Rabies still kills humans in several parts of the world.
95% of human rabies cases are caused by bites from infected dogs. Therefore, vaccinating dogs is the best way to prevent human deaths caused by rabies.

In the framework of its national rabies control programme, Tunisia organises annual mass dog vaccination campaigns. However, vaccinating stray dogs remains a major challenge because they are often difficult to catch.

In order to address this issue effectively, the Tunisian Authorities in charge of animal health have decided to take action and requested OIE’s support. In 2017, the OIE organised a workshop to train professionals from the Municipality of Tunis in charge of mass dog vaccination to catch and handle stray and aggressive dogs.

Discover the outcomes in this short video!

Read more:
OIE workshop on handling of stray and aggressive dogs in the field

 

Rehabilitating vet facilities to prevent rabies in dogs

Maseru (Lesotho) - September 2016

The access to quality veterinary facilities is essential for efficient rabies control in affected countries. It contributes to managing dog populations, carrying out dog vaccinations and raising awareness on the disease among dog owners.

In countries where rabies is still present, mass dog vaccination campaigns are the most cost-effective way to control the disease. Indeed by vaccinating 70% of dogs in at-risk areas, rabies could be eradicated.

In 2016, the OIE funded the refurbishment of a government veterinary clinic and kennels in Lesotho in order to help them implement their vaccination campaigns.

To escalate support to its Member Countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the OIE will hand over another refurbished facility in Maputo (Mozambique) on World Rabies Day 2017.

 

Vaccinating dogs to move towards rabies eradication

Haiti - April 2017

Among the existing measures to eradicate the disease, dogs’ vaccination plays a central role.

In 2017, the Haitian National Anti-rabies Programme carried out a 3-month mass dog vaccination campaign with the objective to vaccinate 70% of their dog population. To support this campaign, the OIE provided 100.000 doses of vaccines through its Rabies Vaccine Bank, with the support of the Canadian Government. 

Thanks to this vaccine provision, Haiti could focus on other aspects of their rabies elimination programme. They could notably invest in technological innovations and equip the personal in charge of vaccination with smartphones to have a better knowledge of the dog population.

Implementing such vaccination campaigns on a regular basis can contribute to eradicate rabies in Haiti.

Vaccinate dogs now!

©F.Marcadieu/ Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Haiti

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