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Education key to fight against rabies, study suggests
The vast majority of rabies deaths are caused by bites from infected dogs.
Lessons about the disease could significantly reduce deaths 

Classroom-based lessons on rabies are essential in the fight against the disease, according to new research.

The study, published in PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases, investigated the impact of a rabies lesson on children in Malawi in conjunction with a rabies vaccination campaign. Researchers found that the children who received the rabies lesson had greater knowledge of the disease than those who had only been exposed to the vaccination campaign.

The study was led by scientists from the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Mission Rabies, an international NGO working to establish effective rabies control activities in Malawi.

“Our study demonstrates that one short lesson, which has now been delivered to over 900,000 children in Malawi, can significantly improve knowledge on how to safely interact with dogs and how children can protect themselves from acquiring rabies infections,” commented Prof Richard Mellanby, head of companion animal sciences at Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

“We hope that this lesson, alongside our mass vaccination programme and disease surveillance activities will significantly reduce the number of deaths from rabies in humans and dogs. The partnership between the Mission Rabies charity and the University of Edinburgh is a powerful demonstration of the benefits of academics and NGOs working together to address important public health challenges.”

In the study, researchers observed the delivery of a single rabies lesson to school children across Zomba City, the fourth largest city in Malawi. No previous rabies lessons or vaccinations had taken place in the city before the study.

The lesson was delivered by trained rabies officers to the school children in Chichewa, Malawi's national language. It included information about improving rabies prevention by immediately washing bite wounds.

Researchers found that knowledge of canine rabies prevention was greater amongst school children that had received the lesson compared to those that did not. Knowledge of the disease among the children remained high for several weeks after the lesson.

In Africa and Asia, the vast majority of rabies deaths are caused by bites from infected dogs. The disease is thought to kill around 59,000 people worldwide each year.

Children are at greater risk of contracting rabies - some 40 per cent of all human rabies death occur in children under the age of 15. Malawi is one of the most affected countries and has one of the world’s highest incidences of recorded child rabies deaths.  

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
British sheep meat to be exported to India in new agreement

The UK government has secured a new export deal of sheep meat to India.

In 2017, UK sheep meat exports were worth £386 million. This new agreement is predicted to increase this value by £6 million over the next five years.

With a range of meat cuts due to be exported, the deal is seen by international trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, as “another vote of confidence in our world-leading food and drink”.