Although human rabies is preventable through vaccination, in certain parts of the globe it continues to have a devastating impact. In fact, nearly 59,000 people die from rabies each year,i with 40 percent of those deaths in children younger than fifteen years old.ii An estimated 100 children die from rabies each day.iii
Because rabies is a preventable disease, Merck Animal Health strongly believes that it can and should be eliminated, in every country. One of the most effective ways to eradicate rabies is mass vaccination, reaching at least 70 percent of dogs.iv ,v
Merck Animal Health has joined the fight against this deadly disease by donating more than 1 million doses of canine rabies vaccines to the Afya Project and Mission Rabies, two organizations that are working to eliminate the disease in some of the world’s most at-risk regions.
Through the Afya Project and Mission Rabies, this year Merck Animal Health will donate 200,000 more vaccines to protect communities from the disastrous impact of rabies. In participating countries, every time pet owners and veterinarians choose Merck Animal Health’s NOBIVAC® vaccine, the company will match with a donation of rabies vaccine to the Afya Project and Mission Rabies.
Afya Project: Saving Lives in the Serengeti
Founded in 1997, the Afya Project has prevented thousands of deaths in the Serengeti through the widespread vaccination of domestic dogs. Since the start of the program, the incidence of human rabies, rabies in dogs and rabid dog bites are at an all-time low.vi Recently, the program has extended to Kenya, Bangalore and the Pune region of India.
“The work we are doing is not only making an immediate difference in the Serengeti and other areas, but it also gives us important data on how rabies spreads,” said Professor Sarah Cleaveland, founder, Afya Project. “Increased understanding of the disease will be critical for eradicating rabies worldwide.”
Mission Rabies: Eliminating Rabies in India
Since 2013, Mission Rabies has set a goal to vaccinate dogs across rabies hotspots in India, where more than one-third of all human rabies deaths occur.vii Using a fast-paced team of veterinarians and volunteers, Mission Rabies has vaccinated more than 167,000 dogs, trained dozens of veterinarians, and educated more than 212,000 children about the risk of rabies. Based on the program’s success in India, Mission Rabies is now expanding its coverage area to Malawi.
“Widespread canine vaccinations are making a tremendous difference in India,” said Luke Gamble, founder, Mission Rabies. “We hope that rabies will be eliminated worldwide by 2030, and the resources we receive from Merck Animal Health will be invaluable for accomplishing that goal.”
“Eliminating rabies is an attainable goal, but ongoing collaboration is essential,” said Ingrid Deuzeman, Global Marketing Director, Merck Animal Health. “We will continue in our fight against rabies, and encourage others to take action against this deadly disease.”
For more information, visit www.afya.org and www.missionrabies.com.
i Hampson K et al. Estimating the Global Burden of Endemic Canine Rabies. PLoS: Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2015 Apr: 9(5): e0003786.
vi Kaare M, Lembo T, Hampson K, et al. Rabies control in rural Africa: evaluating strategies for effective domestic dog vaccination. Vaccine. 2009;27(1):152–160.
vii World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. “India’s ongoing war against rabies.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Volume 87, Number 12, December 2009, 885-964. Accessed June 17, 2015 via http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/12/09-021209/en/.