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FOUR PAWS vaccinates 50,000 stray dogs against rabies in Myanmar

2018-03-06

Pilot project protects animals and humans from life-threatening infections

Brussels, 6.3.2018International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has launched its new major project in Myanmar on 5th March: to vaccinate 50,000 stray dogs in 267 villages around the capital Naypyidaw against rabies. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 1,000 people die as a result of infectious dog bites in Myanmar each year. The ambitious pilot project of the approximately 50-headed team, including local and international veterinarians and authorities, reinforces Myanmar's plans to eradicate rabies by 2030.



© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

As common in many countries, authorities often kill stray dogs because of the fear of rabies and the lack of available information. FOUR PAWS has started a mass vaccination program together with local and international authorities in Myanmar to stop the unnecessary murdering of strays and to save the lives of humans threatened by infectious bites. "Vaccinating 50,000 stray dogs against rabies is an ambitious but much needed start. With our campaign, we want to show Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia that the brutal killing of free-roaming dogs is not a solution in rabies control. Only regular vaccinations of dogs protect people and animals against life-threatening rabies infections in the long term," says FOUR PAWS veterinarian and head of the project Dr Amir Khalil.



© FOUR PAWS

50 people for 50,000 dogs

Myanmar’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, the local University of Veterinary Science, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as the local NGO “Mingalar Myanmar” support FOUR PAWS’ mission. In total, around 50 people are deployed in 267 villages around the capital, Naypyidaw. FOUR PAWS trained the local teams in terms of sustainable rabies prevention, proper handling of strays and safe dog catching techniques. Additionally, visits to the affected communities and the ongoing public FOUR PAWS campaign "Don’t Wait, Vaccinate!" have already created a heightened awareness in the region with the potential for residents to help bring local dogs to the mobile veterinary clinics. "Many people falsely believe that stray dogs tend to be more aggressive during the hot season and therefore, need to be killed before it starts. In fact, most of the strays live peacefully with the people – they belong to the communities. The residents regularly feed and play with them. That is why the dogs are very trusting,” explains Dr Marina Ivanova, a FOUR PAWS vet, who has joined the project team in Myanmar.



© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Zero rabies deaths by 2030

Myanmar supports WHO's worldwide goal of stopping the transmission of rabies from dogs to humans from 2030 onwards. The starting situation is not an easy one though. According to Myanmar’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, there are an estimated four million dogs in the country – seventy percent of them are probably strays. In 2017, nearly 62,000 people were bitten by dogs, forty percent of them were children under the age of fifteen. About 1,000 of these bites ended deadly due to rabies infections. "Our project not only saves the lives of dogs, but also of many people. We hope to make an example followed by many other countries. In any case, we are laying the foundation for a rabies-free future with our campaign in Myanmar,” says Dr Khalil.

 


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