MADISON, NEW JERSEY, September 28, 2016 – Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) is proud to announce a landmark accomplishment in its fight against rabies with the donation of now more than two million doses of its NOBIVAC® rabies vaccine to organizations working to eliminate this completely preventable disease. This year’s donations of vaccines and other resources to the Afya Serengeti Project and Mission Rabies in the world’s most at-risk regions further represent the Company’s deep, long-standing commitment to the fight against rabies.
Each year, an estimated 59,000 people die from rabies, with 40 percent of those deaths occurring in children under the age of fifteen.1 Rabies, a neglected disease of vulnerable populations, occurs mainly in remote rural communities where children ages 5 to 14 are frequent victims. Africa and India bear the highest burden of total annual rabies deaths.2 Since dogs are the source of the vast majority of human cases and the primary reservoirs, the widespread vaccination of dogs is an effective method for eliminating the disease.2
“On this World Rabies Day and every day, Merck Animal Health is proud to extend our collaboration with the Afya Serengeti Project, which we’ve been committed to for more than 15 years, and with Mission Rabies, in our continued fight against rabies,” said Ingrid Deuzeman, Global Marketing Director, Merck Animal Health. “A preventable disease with devastating impact in vulnerable populations, we are committed to these partnerships and efforts to eliminate rabies globally.”
Join the Fight Against Rabies
In more than 20 participating countries, when pet owners and veterinarians choose NOBIVAC® vaccines, Merck Animal Health has committed to match it with a donation of NOBIVAC® rabies vaccines to the Afya Serengeti Project and Mission Rabies.
“Every year, more than 25 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination, which prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually. However, in areas without sufficient access to treatment and hospitals, the impact of rabies is catastrophic. Every day, people are being exposed to rabies and they then face a race against time, which can sometimes have a deadly and tragic outcome.” said Professor Sarah Cleaveland, founder, Afya Serengeti Project. “We, and the communities supported by this project, are very grateful for the continued support of Merck Animal Health that allows us to control rabies and save lives in vulnerable regions.”
“Widespread canine vaccinations are preventing the needless devastation that rabies can cause in people and animals,” said Luke Gamble, founder, Mission Rabies. “Our collaboration with Merck Animal Health is an invaluable resource in our mission to eliminate rabies worldwide by 2030.”
For more information, visit www.afya.org, www.missionrabies.com and http://rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day. More information about NOBIVAC® Vaccines can be found at www.nobivac.com.
Saving Lives in the Serengeti
The Afya Serengeti Project has prevented hundreds of horrifying deaths in the Serengeti through the widespread vaccination of domestic dogs. Each year, over 600 dog rabies cases have been prevented and 23 human lives saved5. The implementation of mass dog vaccination was initially able to bring rabies to an all-time low3, but efforts have had to be intensified over recent years to tackle the upsurge of cases that have originated from introductions from outside the vaccination zone, where rabies remains rampant. Fortunately, with this renewed momentum, cases have fallen substantially over the past three years and holds promise for elimination. The effective control of rabies through dog vaccination has also had benefits for wildlife, including endangered African wild dogs, which have become re-established in the Serengeti National Park for the first time since the population disappeared as a result of rabies outbreaks in the early 1990s.
Understanding the importance of providing vaccinations to other at-risk areas, the Afya Project is now focused on expanding its service area. Recently, the program has extended to Kenya, Bangalore and the Pune region of India.
Eliminating Rabies in India and Africa
Since 2013, Mission Rabies has set a goal to vaccinate dogs across rabies hotspots in India, where over a third of all human rabies deaths occur.4 Based on the program’s success in India, Mission Rabies has expanded its support to Africa.
Mission Rabies does more than just vaccinate hundreds of thousands of dogs against rabies each year. They go to schools and educate children in these communities, informing them of the seriousness of the disease. Children are the most affected by rabies because they play with dogs and don’t understand how deadly rabies can be.
Using a fast-paced team of veterinarians and volunteers, Mission Rabies has so far vaccinated more than 449,000 dogs, trained 80 veterinarians, and educated more than 622,000 children about the risk of rabies. This year alone, the Mission Rabies team visited Goa, India; Blantyre, Malawi; Ranchi City, India; Nwoya, Uganda; Meru, Tanzania and Negombo, Sri Lanka.
“As we mark the 10th World Rabies Day in 2016, a milestone in life-saving rabies prevention, Merck Animal Health is honored to continue supporting the Afya Serengeti Project and Mission Rabies with our own milestone of more than two million doses of NOBIVAC rabies vaccine donated,” said Dr. David Sutton, Technical Director, Merck Animal Health.
About Merck Animal Health
For 125 years, Merck has been a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.merck-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter at @MerckAH.
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1 Hampson K, Coudeville L, Lembo T, Sambo M, Kieffer A, Attlan M, Barrat J, Blanton JD, Briggs DJ, Cleaveland S et al. (2015) Estimating the Global Burden of Endemic Canine Rabies. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(4): e0003709. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003709
2 World Health Organization. Rabies Fact Sheet: Epidemiology. Accessed August 31, 2016 via http://www.who.int/rabies/epidemiology/en/.
3 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.
4 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/.
5 Hampson, K. Contact-tracing study data [unpublished]. June 2013.