OIE Global Conference on Rabies Control

(02.09.2011) Public and private veterinarians within the national Veterinary Services have a primary responsibility to apply their knowledge and skills to ensure control of rabies at animal source, was one of the main conclusions of the OIE Global Conference on Rabies Control held in Seoul, Republic of Korea (September 7-9 2011).

OIE Participants in the Conference recommended that rabies control programmes should in particular support the effectiveness of public and private components of national Veterinary Services, especially in developing countries.

“To achieve their mission Veterinary Services must receive the support of their governments and relevant national administration, local communities, non-governmental organisations and most importantly all dog owners; unfortunately rabies is still a neglected disease and its prevention and control fails to be a priority in many countries,” OIE Director General Dr Bernard Vallat explained.

The active participation of all countries in the OIE PVS Pathway (Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services) to determine Veterinary Services’ needs in terms of investment and training was a core recommendation because achieving the highest standards of good veterinary governance is pivotal in defining, and putting appropriate rabies and any other animal disease control strategies and activities to work.

Breaking the link between animals and human infections

More than 99 per cent of all documented human cases are still due to bites by infected dogs. Especially affecting children in developing countries, rabies claims at least 55, 000 human lives each year, and causes more human deaths in the world than any other infectious disease. Furthermore this global toll is believed to be higher as many rabies occurrences in animals and human fatalities still go unreported in many regions of the world.

Some analysts have also estimated that about 10% of the financial resources used for post-bite treatment in humans would be sufficient to eradicate rabies at source, in dogs, throughout the world, and so prevent almost all human cases at a very small cost.

The Conference recognised that vaccination of dogs is the preferred method of controlling and eliminating rabies: for ethical, ecological and economic reasons, the culling of animals cannot be considered as the priority method for control and eradication except in very specific situations. All successful rabies eradication programmes have included measures combining stray dog population control and vaccination of all dogs having owners.

“Donors, governments, local communities and dog owners must understand the economic, public health and animal health and welfare benefits in preventing rabies at animal source, and the absolute necessity to do more for the improvement and implementation of international standards and guidelines on rabies control which will lead to saving thousands of human and animal lives,” Dr Vallat commented.

These guidelines also include requirements for appropriate initial and continuous veterinary education as well as permanent quality control of any vaccine used by OIE Member countries. The Conference also recommended that the support to veterinary research for rabies prevention be considered as a priority.

The OIE is grateful for the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea, notably the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for hosting the Conference and their valuable support in organising the event.


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