Mission Rabies reports decline in rabies deaths
Mission Rabies founder Luke Gamble says the project is beginning to see the impact of its international programmes, with more than 500,000 street dogs vaccinated since its launch in 2013.
According to the project’s latest annual report, no child rabies deaths were reported in Blantyre, Malawi, last year. Back in 2012, however, it was a different story. The government hospital published an editorial in The Lancet, reporting the highest rate of child rabies deaths from any single institution in the whole of Africa.
Human rabies deaths are likewise declining in Goa, India. There were 17 human deaths in 2014, five in 2015 and just one in 2016. And in Ranchi, India, there were no reports of human or canine rabies deaths last year.
In addition to these three flagship projects, Mission Rabies now has another four project sites - in Zomba, Uganda, Tanzania and Sri Lanka. Thousands of dogs have been vaccinated in each of these areas, achieving coverage of 70-80 per cent of the canine population.
Last year the Mission Rabies truck also sterilised 2,234 animals, delivered 11 courses and trained 70 vets, providing vital training in clinical best practice. And the project recently announced it had educated its one millionth child on how to prevent rabies.
One particular case shows the impact of the education campaign. A man named Rupesh phoned the Mission Rabies hotline when his son Eknath had been bitten by a dog. Rupesh was incredulous that five post-exposure rabies vaccinations and rabies immunoglobulin were necessary, as the dog appeared normal.
The following day, however, Rupesh phoned back as the dog was becoming increasingly aggressive. The dog was collected by the Mission Rabies Response Team and humanely euthanised after showing clear rabies symptoms. The animal later tested positive for rabies.
Rupesh revealed that his son had shown him a Mission Rabies pamphlet and the emergency number, which had prompted his call. The Mission Rabies team had visited Eknath’s school and he remembered being told to wash the bite and visit the doctor for injections.
Now, Mission Rabies has launched a crowd funding drive to help it educate another 15,000 children: crowdfunder.co.uk/life-saving-lessons
The project’s CEO Luke Gamble said: “Teaching children how to avoid dog bites and what to do if they are bitten is a vital part of what we do. It only costs us 70p to rabies educate one child - the same price as a bar of chocolate.”