Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Veterinary Community Joins Global Fight Against Rabies
Brief Media—publisher of leading veterinary resources Clinician’s Brief, Veterinary Team Brief, Plumb’s Therapeutics Brief, and Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs—recently partnered with Mission Rabies (missionrabies.com) for its Mega Vaccine Drive to leverage the knowledge and skills of the veterinary community and promote animal and human health in a humanitarian capacity. Through this continuing partnership, Brief Media aims to help create a better veterinary world and support veterinary professionals—and the clients and pets they serve—around the globe.
“Brief Media was founded on the ideal of creating informative, novel content for the veterinary community in an effort to deliver health and well-being to companion animals,” says Elizabeth Green, Brief Media CEO and founder. “Now, leveraging the rich knowledge and extraordinary skills of veterinary professionals, we are honored to save human lives as well as the lives of pets. This partnership truly embodies Brief Media’s mission to create a better veterinary world.”
Merial, a global animal health company, sponsored several Brief Media volunteers in their travels to Blantyre, Malawi, where, in partnership with Mission Rabies, they provided rabies vaccinations and engaged local communities in rabies prevention education. Eleven Brief Media participants—8 volunteers and 3 company team members—took part in the vaccine drive from April 29 to May 14. Mission Rabies continued its vaccine drive in Blantyre from May 13 to May 28. Throughout the entire drive, a team of educators worked with local children in primary schools, and a veterinary team held clinics and traveled door to door to administer vaccinations.
Volunteers, navigating through varied and sometimes mountainous terrain, vaccinated dogs and marked each with paint for easy recognition as a vaccinated animal. Volunteers also logged pertinent information, such as animal health status and whether animals were confined to a yard or traveled freely (as many of the area dogs do at night), to provide a valuable database concerning the number and status of vaccinated dogs in each area.
Over the course of 4 weeks (both vaccine drives combined), 35 volunteers from 12 different countries:
- Vaccinated 35 612 dogs in partnership with Mission Rabies and local communities
- Walked 2812 miles
- Educated 95 508 children at 60 schools
- Spayed or neutered 970 dogs in partnership with Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS)
- Among the Brief Media volunteers was Shann Ikezawa, a California veterinarian.
- “I grew up in Hawaii, where rabies doesn’t even exist,” says Dr.
Ikezawa. “And in California, a rabies case makes huge news. When I heard through Mission Rabies how many people die of rabies, particularly children, every day—it was amazing to me. It’s such a controllable disease yet there’s no control of it. Just with simple vaccinations, we can manage it.”
Veterinary nurse and Brief Media production editor Jessie Foley also traveled to Malawi as part of the vaccination drive. Foley, who worked at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Teaching Hospital before joining Brief Media, also led the company’s Mission Rabies volunteer recruitment efforts.
“I was proud to be part of an initiative to fight this horrible—and completely preventable—disease,” says Foley. “I’m awed by the opportunity our wonderful team of volunteers had to impact the lives of dogs, children, families—and entire communities.”
Although many veterinarians have never diagnosed or managed a rabies case, this disease is deadly and still kills approximately 61 000 people (most of them children) every year— with nearly all human cases occurring as the result of dog bites. Mission Rabies aims to save human and animal lives by eliminating rabies at the source, vaccinating at least 70% of the canine population in rabies-endemic areas.
The goal: eradicate rabies by 2030.
“Rabies is such a preventable disease, and there are children around the world dying every day from rabies simply because their companion animals don’t have access to this vaccine,” says veterinarian Megan Davis, a Mission Rabies volunteer from Florida. “A lot of times in our day-to-day practices, we’re vaccinating dogs from rabies, we’re recommending vaccines, but very rarely are we truly seeing the disease. In Africa, rabies is definitely quite rampant.”
About Mission Rabies
Having witnessed the devastating effect of rabies firsthand, Luke Gamble, CEO of the UK-based charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), launched Mission Rabies in September 2013. Since then, Mission Rabies, with the help of local and international volunteers, has vaccinated more than 350 000 dogs, educated more than 500 000 children on rabies risk reduction, and trained more than 70 Indian veterinarians in humane Animal Birth Control (ABC) techniques.
The majority of the people who die from rabies are children from poor and marginal communities, and over 99% of human cases of rabies are the result of dog bites. In response to these statistics, Mission Rabies aims to vaccinate at least 70% of the canine population in rabies-endemic areas. The campaign is led by local animal welfare charities in the project countries. The support team in the UK is led by Luke Gamble, with Dogs Trust and MSD Animal Health as the key international sponsors.