Rabies - Emergence - Your Guide to Transboundary & Emerging Diseases
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20
Total Reported Outbreaks
13
Total Affected Countries
8
Total Affected Species
Key Facts
Clinical Signs
Treatment and Management
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Rabies is one of the most lethal viruses on earth, with almost 60,000 people dying of this terrible disease every year. Almost half of these deaths are children, mostly in Africa and Asia. However, rabies is preventable and there is a global goal of achieving zero human dog-mediated rabies deaths by 2030.

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Rabies

Asia and Africa are the main regions affected by rabies in dogs, whilst wildlife may be affected in many parts of the world. Find out where the latest reported outbreaks are with this map.

Key Facts
Clinical Signs

Clinical signs in dogs with rabies include aggression/unusual behaviour, excessive salivation, and choking/gagging. In animals and humans the disease is 100% fatal once clinical signs/symptoms occur. As such rabies has one of the highest mortality rates of any disease. This Mission Rabies training video gives a detailed explanation of the clinical signs to watch for. 

Treatment

Prevention is the key to controlling and eliminating rabies, with dog vaccination the main tool. People that are bitten by a dog should take appropriate action to wash and clean the wound and seek medical attention.

Management

The disease is 100% preventable. In recent decades countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have made strides towards rabies elimination, and in November 2019, Mexico proved that human canine-mediated deaths can be eliminated when it became the first country in the world to obtain WHO validation for no human rabies deaths. Mexico achieved this by having a national rabies strategy based on mass dog vaccination, raising public awareness, and post-exposure prophylaxis. The cooperation of human and animal health sectors is important in achieving rabies elimination, and rabies is a good example of how a One Health approach can be very effective.

Stray dog in street
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Focus On… Exploring the Factors Affecting the Probability for Local Rabies Elimination
Latest Articles and Events
Knowledge Hub
Times up for rabies! Join the #Rabies360Challenge this September!
Do you want to help save human and animal lives? Join the #Rabies360Challenge this September to raise awareness of rabies elimination. Anyone can engage to help us spread this important message ahead of World Rabies Day (September 28th): Times up for a disease that kills one person every nine minutes. It is 2022, and it is simply unacceptable that almost 60,000 people PER YEAR die from rabies, a disease that is entirely preventable by vaccinating dogs.   The purpose of the challenge is to instill a change that will make a difference in the Global South, where people still face the danger of rabies infection in their everyday lives. ANYONE from ANYWHERE can partake by doing 360 of anything they want and posting about it on social media with our hashtag #Rabies360Challenge. With a social media challenge like this one, your voice will reach across the world. Similar events in the past have amounted to an unimaginable amount of awareness and action. And prove that even the smallest act can help make the greatest impact by inspiring others to do the same. Let your creativity and persistency shine; your presence will drive the change you want to see. It can be as fun and easy as taking 360 nature photographs, 360 stitches in a knitting project, or 360 minutes of a hobby you’ve always wanted to devote more time to – now is your chance! It is 2022, and it is time to save tens of thousands of lives each year from one of the world’s most lethal but preventable viruses. #Zeroby30 is within our reach.                                      Why not start thinking about a challenge you might like to do.  There are lots of ways to stay informed and get involved: Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn to see what others have been doing on their challenge. Or search the hashtag #Rabies360Challenge.Join in? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know what you are doing here or simply tag @emergence_MAH in your social media posts!Get inspired by what other participants did last year - read Following #Rabies360Challenge Around the Globe and Celebrating World Rabies Day 2022 with #Rabies360ChallengeVisit the Community Response to Rabies for more information about the disease elimination Spreading the word is easy with our FREE #Rabies360Challenge social media toolkit – available in our Knowledge Hub. Download and use the graphics on your social channels! Every post, every like, every share makes a difference. What will you do? Your challenge. Our fight. Eliminating rabies together. Participation is entirely voluntary and at the participants own risk. MSD Animal health accepts no liability. Your participation may result in your #Rabies360Challenge posts, including photos and videos, being shared through emergence channels (website and social media). Image credits: Carl Salter
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Boosting disease control with learning and innovation
Disease control is about a lot more than simply the right vaccine. Building sustainable programs that will make a difference often requires behavioural change and even cultural shifts.  Alongside that, vaccination is definitely not an excuse for poor management routines.  High-quality vaccines are effective in extremely testing conditions, but no matter how good they are, ultimately human and animal immune systems can be overwhelmed when the challenge is too much. That is why we concentrate on how vaccines are used, and how elimination and eradication programs are implemented, as much as we do on the technologies to continually develop better vaccines. On the emergence website, and in the emergence podcasts, we talk to people about the diseases themselves, how they spread, what actions can be done to reduce the environmental load, and how to improve the interface between humans and animals.  Awareness is critical.  It used to be that vets and doctors could focus on the “local” diseases, but with global travel and shifting weather patterns, vectors are changing their habitats and viruses can be carried tens of thousands of miles before clinical signs are even seen.  It is more critical than ever that we watch for unusual diseases.  When I was trained as a veterinary surgeon at the University of Glasgow we were told “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”.  A couple of decades later then you need to think of the zebras.  African Swine Fever, Lyme Disease, and Lumpy Skin Disease are all examples of diseases that are now common in areas that weren’t even considered ten years ago. That awareness is built on education.  Education of medical professionals, but also of technicians, animal owners, and the public.  It’s a privilege to be able to engage with people and share what we have learnt over the years of working in transboundary and emerging diseases.  And also for us to learn from others involved on the ground.  Whether it is talking to students at college, hosting One Health webinars, supporting village community workshops, helping vets in developing countries attend conferences, or through social media, using different mediums helps communicate the message that we can work together to create a healthy, welfare positive, and sustainable future for us all.  This latest emergence edition will bring you some of those tools and help support you as we work together. Here are a few resources and ways to learn about a variety of diseases, that we would like to bring to your attention: Global One Health initiative webinar ‘Surveillance – Where we are now and barriers to implementation’International rabies training course in West Africa organised by the Pasteur InstituteFree Animal Health Expert Trainings from the FAO elearning AcademyOur recent webinar 'A One Health Approach to Vector-Borne Diseases' Expert resources on Lumpy Skin Disease and vaccinationThe 'ASF Talks' webinar series International Veterinary Vaccinology Network
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Partnering towards rabies elimination in West Africa
"Collaboration is one of the main elements needed to achieve rabies elimination," says John Atkinson, Associate Director International Veterinary Health, "and this was highlighted recently as a range of partners came together to organise, support and facilitate an international rabies training course in West Africa. " This 11-day course was organized by the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the Pasteur Institute of Côte d’Ivoire, the National Institute of Public Hygiene in Côte d’Ivoire, the Directorate of Veterinary Services of Côte d’Ivoire, in collaboration with the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako in Mali, the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Mali, the Swiss Centre for Scientific Research in Côte d’Ivoire and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Pasteur Network, the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Lausanne, the Health Sciences eTraining Foundation (HSeT), the University of Glasgow, and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC). The rabies surveillance and control training course took place in April 2022 and was for professionals involved in rabies control in West Africa as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the disease control capacity in the region. The event was a great success with participants from 8 countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Tchad, Rwanda, Togo) graduating from the course. The training emphasized the need for a multidisciplinary approach and intersectoral cooperation. The trainees engaged in various activities to help acquire new knowledge and skills which will be indispensable for success of the future rabies control programmes in their respective countries. The course was designed to provide theoretical as well as practical training for students and professionals from both human and animal health sectors. The learning objectives included the use of epidemiologic data, promotion of dog vaccination in rabies control, developing strategic plans and raising awareness of rabies within the West African context, in line with the One Health approach. The program comprised online pre-work followed by an 11-day practical session in Côte d'Ivoire with field activities and lab work covering a variety of topics, including surveillance, canine rabies control as well as management of rabies in humans, awareness, community engagement and modeling. Participants learned through a range of activities e.g. virological diagnosis, planning of vaccination campaigns, data analysis, discussions with experts and more. A combination of group work, writing assignments and application in the field was an excellent way to develop the skills related to the program objectives, and help advance the future implementation of integrated rabies control across West Africa. In sponsoring this West Africa training course, MSD Animal Health was proud to continue supporting the training of rabies control professionals, having also sponsored the North Africa Surveillance and Control of Rabies training course in Morocco 2019. Find out more about how networks of rabies champions are being built around the world with this “Focus On…” article by Perrine Parize from Institut Pasteur. Image credits: Institut Pasteur
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A Culture of Well-being, for People and Animals
Today, we are delighted to share with you stories of some impressive efforts to help improve the lives of people and animals on our planet. On World Health Day, 7th April, the global community reflects on ways to keep humans healthy, now and in the future. Inspired by this year's theme “Our planet, our health”, we look at three areas where the interconnection between people, animals, and the environment plays a significant role in creating a society that is truly focused on the well-being of all. We believe that the One Health approach can make a real difference in some of the most intricate global issues: preventing animal disease helps to fight the threat of hunger, keeping dogs healthy helps people to protect endangered species, and, saves humans from deadly zoonosis….  Spotlight on: PPR control in Morocco Our latest ‘Focus On…’ article is a spotlight on Morocco and the country’s journey in managing Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), an infectious disease of sheep and goats that threatens the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on their animals for subsistence. Dr Tarik Embarki takes us back to Morocco’s first outbreak of PPR drawing a picture of the control efforts to date. Dr Tarik Embarki during the PPR vaccination campaign in Morocco, 2020 Protecting rhinos in South Africa Moving down to the southern end of the continent, we deep dive into a rhino protection program in the South African wilderness. In an eye-opening conversation with Captain Carl Thornton, in this episode of the emergence podcast, we learn about the anti-poaching efforts and the incredible role the dogs play in saving animals endangered with extinction. This exclusive interview is a vivid account of what it takes to protect wildlife. Capt. Thornton tells a compelling story about the beauty of working side by side with the man’s best friend while facing the dangers of poacher chasing. If you are more of a visual person, make sure to read Painting the Picture of Rhino Protection in South Africa, which follows on from this amazing conversation. Rhinos in South Africa. Photo by Tom Strydom. Animal welfare pioneer Dr Mo receives Rabies Hero Award Finally, we want to drive your attention to the latest recipient of our Rabies Hero Award. Dr Abdul Jalil Mohammadzai has been recognized for his groundbreaking achievements in developing programs for mass rabies vaccination in Afghanistan. A real animal welfare champion who played an instrumental role in raising veterinary care standards in Kabul. We are delighted to name him our #RabiesHero. Visit the Rabies Hero Awards wall of fame to learn more about his work.  Dr Mo vaccinating dogs in Kabul. There is a lot we can do to help protect all life on our planet, and these are just a few examples. Wildlife conservation, humane dog handling in rabies control, and vaccinating sheep herds to help build sustainable communities, are all part of a culture of well-being, helping to build a healthier world.
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Rabies Hero Dr Mo – work in pictures
The first Rabies Hero Award this year goes to Dr Abdul Jalil Mohammadzai, known as Dr Mo, for his groundbreaking work in Kabul, including establishing the first mass canine rabies vaccination program and improving the handling of dogs in Afghanistan. Vaccinating dogs is the cornerstone of rabies prevention. Dr Mo has been instrumental in raising welfare standards and veterinary care in Kabul. His efforts working alongside The Mayhew Animal Home, have led to an agreement with Kabul Municipality to stop the inhumane culling of dogs in the city, saving thousands of dogs' lives. Before this agreement, people would aimlessly harm or kill stray dogs seen as a nuisance. Through this work, authorities in the city have taken on an essential role in protecting the dog population and supporting Dr Mo in his efforts. Vaccination teams are trained in safe and humane dog handling. Despite the challenges throughout 2021 Mayhew Afghanistan’s objective remained to carry on with two main programs in the city of Kabul – mass canine rabies vaccination and the TNR (trap-neuter-return) program. Dr Mo and the vaccination and clinic teams continued the work in Afghanistan through hard times. In the last 2 weeks of September, more than 200 dogs we have been vaccinated and neutered, after the operations were partly resumed and the work could gradually get back to normal. Today, Dr Mo continues to strategize with a team committed to improving animals and people's lives. Teams carrying out community engagement work in district 5 on On World Rabies Day 2021. To go back to Rabies Heroes homepage and read more click here.
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Wishing You Well for 2022
Have a wonderful end of the year, enjoy time with families and friends, and we will see you, reinvigorated and recharged, in 2022.
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Rabies Hero Dr Ilona Otter - work in pictures
The latest Rabies Hero Award recipient, Dr Ilona Otter, has been instrumental to improving rabies control in Ooty, pioneering new solutions and introducing smart methods to make the efforts to eliminate this disease more sustainable. We are delighted to present a photo impression from the different rabies vaccination programs in the Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu, South India, and the thoughts that Ilona shared with us about her experience working to eliminate rabies. "Thanks to the annual vaccination campaign by WVS, the district has been maintained free of canine rabies now for over a decade. We vaccinate free-roaming dogs in the municipality areas with a team of dog catchers, using catching nets and we also record the sterilisation status of each dog that we vaccinate. This helps to monitor the percentage of the free-roaming dog population that is sterilised and also helps us to collect data to estimate the free-roaming dog population in the district. Every vaccination drive is also an educational experience to our changing crew of junior resident vets who will take these experiences with them as they eventually return to their home states to work." "In the rural villages, most dogs have owners, even though most of them are let to roam free most of the time. These dogs can be vaccinated by just owners restraining them. One of my goals in rabies control work in India is to break the myth that the main obstacle in controlling rabies by vaccination of dogs is the inability to catch stray dogs. The main challenge is not how to catch stray dogs but how to ensure delivery of quality rabies vaccine for all owned dogs, especially owned dogs in rural India where veterinary services and adequate vaccine stock are not easily available. In rural areas, even if not one stray dog is vaccinated but all owned dogs were vaccinated annually, that would itself be a huge improvement and control rabies transmission significantly. That said, urban areas and cities are a different story where we need to be focusing on the actual stray dogs and how to catch them and how to maintain those programs annually." "I run a small WVS dispensary at my home farm and many villagers bring their dogs there for vaccination. This is result of many years of annual door-to-door vaccination campaigns and awareness raising that has resulted in many owners now actively coming and seeking for vaccine, not just waiting for the team to come to their doorstep. However, the door-to-door approach still continues to be our main mode of vaccine delivery in these villages." To go back to Rabies Heroes homepage and read more click here. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health.
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Eliminating Rabies, One Health in Action - Thoughts from the Podcast
Recently, for the occasion of World Rabies Day, we had the honour to speak to Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and Dr Bernadette Abela-Ridder, Team Leader for Neglected Zoonotic Diseases at the World Health Organisation (WHO), on the emergence podcast hosted by Alasdair King, Director of International Veterinary Health, and talk about their views on rabies elimination and One Health. They have been major figures in global rabies control as the world has been trying to eliminate the disease that continues to kill almost 60,000 people every year, both driven by a deep desire to reduce the suffering in the world. It was a great privilege to be able to hear what they find important to stop human deaths from dog transmitted rabies by 2030. Today, we look back at some of the thoughts they shared with us. Listen to the full conversation in this episode. We know what to do, all we need is to act The take-home message was one of hope and confidence. As Bernadette told us: “Rabies is a disease that we can overcome. We do not have to have deaths any more from rabies. We have all the tools that are needed. We know how to eliminate this disease, we just need to scale up our efforts." When asked what gives her the confidence that we can eliminate rabies, Monique replied: “I am confident because we have evidence that it is possible!” and added “We have a direct impact of the vaccination campaign in dogs on human health. We have excellent vaccines. And with long standing commitment, we can eliminate rabies. It is not just a wish; it can be a reality because we have clear data that it is possible.” That confidence comes from the experience in countries who did manage to control this disease. While some countries are only learning how to implement rabies programs, others have already done a lot of progress, and the exchange of that expertise is crucial, setting an example for the others to follow. From barriers to partnerships Over the years, rabies control has faced many struggles due to competing priorities. “One of the biggest problems is that it’s not prioritized in many countries”, said Bernadette. As a disease that affects both animals and people, rabies sits right between the public and animal health sectors. “One of the difficult parts is that it’s the dogs that transmit rabies. Nobody feels the ownership of the dogs”, she continues. But when priorities are aligned, then it is possible to make progress, like in Europe and North America that have been successful in keeping rabies out of the dog population, and people. Thankfully, a lot has changed over the last years and it is very encouraging to see that “more and more authorities have rabies on the top of their priorities” - said Monique, glad to see that the United Against Rabies partnership of the OIE, WHO and FAO, have played a role in driving the change. Both Monique and Bernadette are strong supporters of partnership, which they believe, has the power to overcome the biggest barriers. According to Monique “We have barriers, but when we are convinced that we can succeed, that together we are strong enough, then we have the power to convince people who can support”. Human and animal health sectors collaborating along the vaccine manufacturers, NGOs, and local communities, is how we can make leaps towards the elimination. A model for One Health With an increased public recognition of the interaction between humans, animals and the environment, rabies especially makes a strong case for One Health approach. “If there is one disease that we can show quick progress, which we can use as a poster child for implementing One Health, I think rabies is that example. We can really reduce human deaths very quickly”, said Bernadette. A lot of work must still be done to achieve the goal, but rabies control can help build the know-how for other diseases where different sectors also have to work together. The same holds true for education and engaging with local communities. Bringing in local priorities, and activating people on the ground to build awareness, facilitates working towards broader One Health benefits in the long run. “When we better educate the population and inform communities, when we support the strengthening of veterinary services, indirectly, we support the control of other diseases, we support the health system”, said Monique. A call to scale up – “We just need to get on with it” To Monique, it is clear that “One Health approach must be encouraged and implemented at each level” and she is confident that we are heading in the right direction. “In addition to strategy, tools and data that we have, now we also have political commitment. We have all that we need to succeed and now we need to act”. She stressed that it is time to “move from local initiatives to a larger scale” dog vaccination campaigns, in order to truly build sustainable programs. This call to action was echoed by Bernadette: “The biggest barrier is taking it from a pilot- and project-based type of activities into a true program in countries who have prioritized the disease”. She insisted “Let us scale up the rabies programs as an example of implementing One Health in a very measurable way, where we can see impact within months, if we are able to scale up sufficiently”. There have been a lot of positive changes in the last decade and both our guests are optimistic about the future. Bernadette believes that “We can do it. We just need to get on with it” and make sure that the programs are “translated into a plan on the ground, and that we actually start.” Are we on track for 2030? “2030 is a goal that is going to be a challenge to reach”, admits Bernadette, however, it has also “been a way to drive us in the right direction. We set that goal of zero human deaths by 2030 because we all believed it is possible”. “It was aspirational. What’s important, is that every step we take forward we reduce the number of people who die” agreed Alasdair, “Setting a date gives us something that we can aim for, it gives us a strength to keep on going. Because we know we all got the same vision”, he continued. Finally, we would like to conclude with the words from Monique – we couldn’t have a better message to share today: “Rabies elimination, the eradication of dog mediated rabies is achievable. Everybody can do something, the most important is to act, and to invest in rabies control because we know that it is 100% preventable and that we can save so many human lives. PHOTO CREDITS: CARL SALTER The views expressed in this article are those of our guests and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health.
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