Home \ Knowledge Hub \ Opinion \ A Winter Update – Rabies in the Field and Strategy Choices for FMD

01 Apr 2016

A Winter Update – Rabies in the Field and Strategy Choices for FMD

Author profile image

Executive Director, International Veterinary Health

This winter, we have reports from the South East Asia and China FMD OIE subcommission meeting and International Poultry Council meetings. We look back at a visit to Boxmeer from Mission Rabies to explain more about their work and the vaccine we donate towards controlling rabies.  Also, a snowy trip to head office in New Jersey


Panel of speakers on a stage with event details written behind them on a curtained wall
Opening ceremony at the SEACFMD meeting
Three Thai women in traditional dress performing for delegates who are sat behind long tables
Opening ceremony at the SEACFMD meeting
Water buffalo trudging through mud wearing a harness
Working buffalo in Thailand

March saw the annual South East Asia and China Foot and Mouth Disease World Organisation for Animal Health (SEACFMD OIE) sub-commission meeting, this year held in Chiang Rai, Thailand. I presented the economic modelling tool that MSD Animal Health commissioned, which is designed to help governments develop their strategy for FMD control. There was a lot of interest in the tool, and you can learn more about it in the “Focus On…” section. During the meeting, the OIE confirmed that FMD remains part of their strategic objective. With new strains of both O and A serotypes in circulation, and some now reaching Asia, there was a lot of discussion on vaccine choices and the use of high-potency, high-quality vaccines to provide good cover against emerging strains. We also visited the Ban Dong Charoen buffalo raiser community, whose members work to preserve the use of buffalo in farming. The project was initiated by the King in recognition that once lost, it will be difficult to bring back the buffalo and the skills. Most importantly, we discussed and confirmed the next phase of the FMD roadmap, committing to the control of FMD in South East Asia by 2020.

International Poultry Council

The International Poultry Council met in Abu Dhabi in February. I was there as part of the Animal Health and Welfare Working Group. Rodrigo Santibanez, also of MSD Animal Health, was elected as vice chair for the Marketing and Consumption Working Group. This was the first face-to-face meeting of the groups, which set the tone and direction for our future meetings. We discussed some of the key issues for poultry welfare, and considered the new threats from avian influenza. We will now work on developing guidelines and standards to address these areas.

Mission Rabies Visit

Stray dog walking on a dusty path towards chairs and 2 parked motorbikes
Free roaming dog in Chiang Rai

Our Boxmeer site recently had a visit from Frédéric Lohr, International Liaison and Publicity Officer for Mission Rabies. Fred gave a lunchtime presentation on the activities of Mission Rabies and how our donated vaccine was being used to help save lives in Africa and India. The meeting generated a lot of interest and there was “standing room only” at the back. It was extremely useful for our logistics, financial, research, and regulatory teams to hear first-hand the impact that dog vaccination has on human health. We hope to be able to upload a recording of the presentation in the near future as part of a resources section soon to come to eMergence. In addition, Marta Nowak, our Tenders Manager, is currently preparing to go on one of the vaccination campaigns as a volunteer.

Winter in New Jersey

A garden area covered under snow
Blizzard conditions at the head office, New Jersey

In January I went across to New Jersey to visit the Head Office in Madison. Some of my plans, such as a visit to Harris Vaccines to discuss the avian influenza bank that we hold for the US, were slightly disrupted by Winter Storm Jonas. Luckily the US is used to snow, and within 24 hours the roads were clear. This meant that we were still able to have meetings with the global ruminant team and continue our planning on how we will support governments with transboundary and emerging diseases in the future.

Contact Us

This is the fifth edition of our newsletter.  We trust that you are finding it a useful tool and we welcome any feedback from you – what you like, what you don’t like, subjects you would like covered, and what we can do to improve further.  Simply email us at ivh@merck.com.

Executive Director, International Veterinary Health