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Rabies campaign reaches milestone of success

Indian state of Goa declared as Rabies Controlled Area following successful campaign to vaccinate stray dogs.

Pet owner and vaccinated dog

The Indian state of Goa has been declared a Rabies Controlled Area following a successful campaign, supported by Edinburgh vets, to control rabies in stray dogs.

Goa has become the first state in India’s history to achieve this status, declared in an announcement from the State Government, after zero human rabies deaths in the state since 2018.

The achievement is the result of a global collaborative effort led by UK veterinary charity Mission Rabies.

This has been supported by the University of Edinburgh, animal welfare charity Dogs Trust Worldwide, and global health care company MSD Animal Health, through research based on real-time data collected on the ground, funding campaigns and donation of canine vaccines.

Targeted campaign

More than 99 per cent of human rabies cases are caused by an infected dog bite, so the charity developed a model based on dog vaccination and education as the most effective way to stop rabies spread among dogs and people.

Their campaign had the aim of saving 60,000 lives every year across the world.

The campaign in Goa began with vaccinating more than 60,000 dogs in just 30 days, and now vaccinates around 90,000 dogs every year.

Through effective vaccination, dogs are not only protected against disease, they are no longer seen as a threat by people.

It is very encouraging to see Goa being declared as a Rabies Controlled Area, which is validation of our efforts to gather data in order to guide effective vaccination programmes. It shows that great achievements towards rabies elimination are possible even in the most challenging settings with very high numbers of stray dogs.

Dr Stella MazeriChancellor’s Fellow, the Roslin Institute

One-third of all rabies deaths occur in India. This news represents a giant step forward in eliminating one of the world’s oldest known, deadliest diseases.

Professor Richard Mellanby

Goa becoming the first state in India to stop all human deaths from rabies in 2018 … is an incredible achievement we’ve been able to support thanks to the leadership and strategic direction of the Government. It is fantastic that we’ve now hit the next milestone in terms of controlling the disease in animal populations. 

Dr Luke Gamble CEO and Founder of Mission Rabies, and veterinarian

Related links

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Award recognises impact of rabies work

Oral dog vaccine could help beat rabies