Facilitating Knowledge Sharing and Animal Welfare-Based Approaches to Canine Rabies Control
W. Gates1; B. Mutonono-Watkiss1; M. Kennedy2; F. Abson1; P. Zhang3; P. KC1
In more than 99% of human rabies cases, the virus is transmitted via dog bite (WHO 2013). Misconceptions about the best methods of controlling rabies often result in inhumane dog culling. Such methods are not effective.
Objectives and Aims
Coordinated mass canine vaccination campaigns achieving over 70% herd immunity are the most effective measure for controlling rabies. By removing the main source of infection, rabies cases in dogs can be eliminated and human rabies deaths reduced (Coleman, Dye 1996).
To ensure this is achieved, sharing of cross-regional knowledge and a 'One Health' approach to animal and human health is critical. Programmes require political support that actively integrates human and animal health agencies. NGOs, such as WSPA, have a key role to play in facilitation. By way of example, WSPA is collaborating with the China Animal Disease Control Centre (CADC) to collect data on dog populations across pilot sites.
Such data representing typical development stages in China, including city, rural, and city-rural fringe areas is essential to ensure that herd immunity is achieved when vaccination commences. Additionally, WSPA's experience from other pilot projects demonstrates that vaccination promotes a more responsible and less fearful attitude towards dogs within communities.
WSPA and CADC will use this pilot project to promote this approach across other areas. WSPA has also supported collaboration between CADC and Brazil's Ministry of Health to foster key knowledge exchange and support China's canine rabies elimination efforts.