More than 95% of human rabies cases are transmitted by dogs (WHO 2013). The fear caused by rabies, and the misconceptions surrounding methods of controlling the disease, often result in dogs being inhumanely culled. Such methods are ineffective.
Rabies has been effectively controlled in several areas through mass dog vaccination campaigns when at least 70% herd immunity has been achieved (WHO 2013). Through awareness-raising, humane dog population management and mass dog vaccination campaigns, the elimination of rabies is possible.
To ensure elimination is achieved, sharing cross-regional knowledge and taking a 'One Health' approach is critical. Programmes require political support where human and animal health agencies are actively integrated. NGOs, such as World Animal Protection, have a key role to play in facilitation. For example, World Animal Protection works with the Government of Bangladesh to deliver a national action plan with the target of eliminating rabies by 2020.
Following a successful pilot mass dog vaccination project in Cox's Bazaar in 2011, 97166 rabies vaccines have been delivered across 63 municipalities, reaching an average vaccine coverage of 85%. The Government of Bangladesh has, to date, secured 12 MoUs with 12 municipalities not to cull dogs in the name of rabies.
World Animal Protection continues to support the Government of Bangladesh to expand the programme so that people and dogs can live together in harmony. Together, we are helping to protect dogs and people, and making dog culling in response to rabies a thing of the past.