Milton Keynes, September 24, 2018 – MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, continues its commitment to eliminating rabies by 2030, and is pleased to announce that more than two million children in the most at risk regions of the world have received essential rabies education through the company’s partnership with Mission Rabies. Additionally, we are committed to eliminating the rabies risk through our collaboration with the Washington State University ‘Rabies Free Africa’ project (Afya Serengeti).
World Rabies Day, created and coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), takes place on September 28th this year. The initiative is supported by MSD and is the only global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention, providing an opportunity to unite and help increase awareness of the disease.
Last year, MSD Animal Health announced that it had reached a landmark milestone of reaching donations of more than a combined two million doses of NOBIVAC ® rabies vaccine to the Rabies Free Africa project/Afya Serengeti and Mission Rabies – two non-profit organisations working to eliminate the disease in the world’s most at-risk regions.
Rabies is a disease which is 100 percent preventable, and research highlights that dogs are, in fact, the source of a vast majority of human cases. The mass-vaccination of dogs is the most important and cost-effective control measure, and outbreaks tend not to occur in areas where 70 per cent or more dogs are vaccinated.
“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.”
The Rabies Free Africa project/Afya Serengeti 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.
Nikki Barclay, Nobivac product manager, at MSD Animal Health said, “We have been committed to helping eliminate rabies for over two decades, MSD Animal Health continues to partner with Mission Rabies and the Rabies Free Africa project/Afya Serengeti to donate and distribute NOBIVAC rabies vaccine and other resources to fight the disease in high risk populations in Africa and India.”
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 offerings to other parts of Asia and Africa and now has eight international project sites.
“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.
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.
For more information, please visit http://www.afya.org/default.aspx
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 www.msd-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.