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Rabies vaccinations in East Africa to reach 1.5M in 2018

PULLMAN, Wash. – Rabies Free Africa, a global leader in the development and deployment of strategies needed to eliminate rabies, predicts it will administer its 1,500,000th canine rabies vaccine in East Africa since the program’s inception in 2003.

Created at the Washington State University Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health (Allen School), the Rabies Free Africa program, formerly known as the Rabies Vaccination program, works with African governments and international partners to develop strategies for eliminating rabies as a human health threat by 2030. Additionally, Rabies Free Africa is proud of the partnership with the Zoonotic Disease Unit Republic of Kenya (ZDU), as manager of Rabies Free Kenya.

“September 28 is the 11th annual World Rabies Day and we are proud to establish Rabies Free Kenya and coordinating with ZDU to amplify our efforts to combat rabies. Our teams have vaccinated nearly 1.5 million dogs in East Africa which is quite an accomplishment, and together we can build on this great work to end human rabies deaths,” said Dr. Thumbi Mwangi, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Allen School and Director of Rabies Free Kenya. “Human rabies deaths are preventable when 70 percent of dogs are vaccinated regularly, which requires veterinary infrastructure and financial investments which Rabies Free Africa is striving to address.”

Rabies is the deadliest infectious disease known to man with a case fatality rate of 100 percent. More than 99 percent of the people infected with rabies get it from the bite of an unvaccinated dog. Nearly 60,000 people die each year from rabies and approximately 50% of them are children under 16.

Rabies Free Africa is building strategies to develop in-country capacity through Rabies Free Kenya and Rabies Free Tanzania, formerly known as the Serengeti Health Initiative and Carnivore Disease Project, to vaccinate dogs and ensure post-exposure prophylaxis for bite victims, which is the only known way to effect long-term success. Their research focuses on ways to decrease the average cost of implementing dog vaccination campaigns and to design strategies that will enable countries to complete rabies elimination campaigns on their own for long-term sustainability.

Rabies Free Africa leaders are looking at the problem from multiple perspectives. Rabies Free Tanzania director and professor at the Allen School, Felix Lankester stated, “In Tanzania, in addition to mass dog vaccination campaigns, we focus on questions related to the vaccine, its efficacy under different storage and distribution conditions and developing cost effective approaches to deliver the vaccine at scale across remote landscapes.”

In the United States, Rabies Free Africa is building a national coalition of veterinary clinics which are participating in a variety of levels to support the efforts abroad joining the international goal of eliminating human rabies deaths by 2030.

For more on Rabies Free Africa, Rabies Free Kenya and Rabies Free Tanzania please visit www.rabiesfreeafrica.org. Photos available upon request.

 

Media Contact:

Christie Cotterill, Rabies Free Africa U.S. Manager, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, 206-219-2402, ccotterill@wsu.edu

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