This month, our first Rabies Hero Award goes to a “local” recipient Dr. Mashair Ismail recognising her groundbreaking achievements in rabies control in Iraq. We spoke to Dr. Dan Horton, her long-term collaborator at the University of Surrey, to learn more about Dr. Ismail’s work and we are delighted to share this inspiring story:
After the political turmoil in 2003, rabies became a major health threat in Iraq. Human fatalities resulting from dog bites appeared to be increasing, associated with a growth in the number of free-roaming, ownerless dogs. Therefore, it became crucial to understand the burden of disease and its epidemiology by implementing specific diagnostic laboratory testing, that was not previously available. This was extremely challenging in the circumstances: Dr. Ismail had to gather diagnostic samples during periods of unrest and access the relevant reagents and equipment. Then in 2011, Dr. Ismail sought further international training and collaboration, visiting the United Kingdom twice for training under her own initiative at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the University of Surrey. As a result, Dr. Ismail has been able to characterize the rabies viruses circulating in Iraq, first in the capital Baghdad and continued to include all other governorates in 2014. Her work has not only demonstrated the burden of disease but provided information vital to improve control efforts.
Dr. Ismail’s work has been published here:
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health.