MSD Animal Health Collaborates with Mission Rabies and Rabies Free Africa to Fight Rabies in the World’s Most At-Risk Regions

Based on the program’s success in India, Mission Rabies has expanded its programs to other parts of Asia and Africa and now has eight international project sites.

MADISON, N.J., September 28, 2018 – MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, is pleased to announce that more than two million children have received essential rabies education in the most at-risk regions of the world through the company’s partnership with Mission Rabies, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating rabies through canine vaccination and the education of children.

Of the 59,000 people who die from rabies every year, 99 percent of those affected are bitten by rabid dogs and 40 percent of the deaths occur in children under the age of 15. This is because of low levels of canine vaccination in rabies endemic areas and a lack of awareness about the disease.

“Rabies is a neglected disease of vulnerable populations, and occurs mainly in remote rural communities where children ages five to 15 are frequent victims,” said Ingrid Deuzeman, Global Marketing Director, MSD Animal Health. “We are committed to eliminating this risk through our collaboration with the Washington State University ‘Rabies Free Africa’ Project (Afya Serengeti), which we’ve partnered with for more than 20 years, and Mission Rabies, who, among other things, provide extensive educational workshops to affected communities.”

“Thanks in large to the support of MSD Animal Health, we’ve been able to make a real difference in some of the world’s worst affected rabies areas,” said Luke Gamble, BVSc, MRCVS, founder, Mission Rabies. “Education is a key aspect of our work. Informing children how to avoid being bitten, and what to do if they do get bitten, can mean the difference between life and death in places where access to post-exposure vaccine is limited. Reaching more than two million children through our educational efforts is a huge milestone. We prioritize primary school education as we know that children are more receptive to new messages at this age and more likely to share these with their community, creating a multiplier effect for each child reached.”

Committed to helping eliminate rabies by 2030, MSD Animal Health continues to partner with Mission Rabies and the Rabies Free Africa / Afya Serengeti Project to donate and distribute NOBIVAC® rabies vaccine and other resources to fight the disease in high risk populations in Africa and India.

“The human toll of rabies is needless and tragic; it’s been estimated that one child dies from rabies every 20 minutes,” said Professor Sarah Cleaveland, OBE, BSc, BA, VetMB, PhD, MRCVS, FRSE, FRS, University of Glasgow, and Founder, Afya Serengeti Project.“However, over the past 20 years, we have shown that well-organised, robust dog vaccination programs that engage effectively with communities in at-risk regions can reach enough dogs to eliminate rabies anywhere in the world. With continued support from MSD Animal Health and other collaborators, I believe we have the tools to achieve zero human deaths from rabies by 2030.”

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. Based on the program’s success in India, Mission Rabies has expanded its programs to other parts of Asia and Africa and now has eight international project sites.

Mission Rabies does more than just vaccinate hundreds of thousands of dogs against rabies each year. The teams 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 often come into contact with stray 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 over 870,000 dogs, and educated more than two million children about the risk of rabies.

Saving Lives in the Serengeti
The Rabies Free Africa / Afya Serengeti 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 has dropped to an all-time low. Each year, it’s estimated that over 600 dog rabies cases have been prevented and over 20 human lives saved. 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.

About MSD Animal Health
For more than a century, MSD, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD 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. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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